Food preparation big morale boost for Soldiers

by Denise Calabria
21st Theater Support Command PAO

***image1***For Soldiers in the field on a two-month exercise, food becomes more than something merely to fill their bellies. What they eat, and how the food tastes, become factors in morale issues, as well.
At Bulwark ’04 – the U.S. Army’s first significant military maneuver within Bulgaria – the proverbial “heat in the kitchen” rises several more degrees as far as meals are concerned.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Bottomley, food warrant officer, 21st Theater Support Command, is personally responsible for the task of overseeing the meals and feeding the 1,300 American and Bulgarian soldiers and civilians currently taking part in Bulwark ’04.
In his capacity as Food Contracting Officer Representative, Chief Bottomley performs spot checks on food quality and kitchen-sanitation procedures and checks the temperatures of food-holding equipment, refrigerators, food warmers and delivery trucks. He also monitors the health records of local national kitchen employees, ensures that food lines open on time and oversees vector control.
Morning, noon or night, Chief Bottomley can be found in the dining facility observing, checking temperatures and food guidelines.
Throughout his mission, he wears the look of a proud host who is eager to make sure his guests enjoy their dining experience.
Chief Bottomley entered the Army more than 17 years ago as a cook and has served for the past six years as a food warrant officer.
“Our goal,” Chief Bottomley says, “is to provide Soldiers three quality meals per day.”
“Bulwark is a field-training exercise, and we are using a 28-day menu from Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo,” he added.
Bread, sodas and baked goods are provided by a local Bulgarian supplier.”
From all indications, Chief Bottomley is satisfied with Kellogg, Brown and Root’s performance.
“They are generous with the portions, cook quality meals and have cooks from Bondsteel who have four to five years experience with KBR,” Chief Bottomley says.
The Soldiers appear to be pleased with the meals, as well.
“The food is great. I’m surprised the Bulgarians can cook American food so well,” said Sgt. Garrett Walton, of 1st Personnel Command, Kaiserslautern.