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In 2005-2006 while deployed to Iraq, [I noticed] the seven KBR chow halls on five large bases all had reusable silverware and plates. Here in Afghanistan, KBR seems content to squander our tax dollars and create substantially more convoy requirements using disposable paper plates and utensils (all imported from Kentucky and Illinois).

Since June 2009, I have experienced eight American dining facilities and one from the United Arab Emirates. The only dining facility that had washable plates was the UAE Army mess hall at Bagram Air Field. All the American dining facilities I’ve visited use disposables all of the time.

Using Sam’s Club bulk prices and the current style of military cafeteria dishes, I have ascertained that my Camp Phoenix mess hall, which serves about 10,000 meals a day, pays about 12.5 cents per disposable flatware set and about 2.6 cents per paper plate, totaling about $1,500 a day for Phoenix and close to $3,800 a day for Bagram. Prices do not include the shipping costs, which must be staggering given the origin and quantity.

Using Sam’s and the General Services Administration via the company Katom, I found one Melamine 10-inch plate for $1.85 and a dining tray for $7.29. Elsewhere a similar style plate was $3.51 and stainless steel dinner forks, knives and spoons were $1.32 per set. I also found a $13,000 Energy Star conveyor belt dishwasher that handles 119 dish racks/hour.

Outfitting Camp Phoenix using the best prices from above would cost about $42,500. The mess hall at Camp Phoenix has been in use for at least six years, running something close to a total of $3,285,000 compared to the above permanent dish and flatware prices.

Good going, KBR. Way to take care of the U.S. taxpayer, American troops and the environment.

Capt. Andrew LaneCamp Phoenix, Afghanistan

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