Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, military personnel have had to continue high-tempo operations, while managing new responsibilities and requirements. For those who have had to travel, a mandatory ROM (restriction-of-movement) has been in effect, in the form of a 14-day isolation in a hotel or barracks.
For those on ROM in the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (NRMA) area, workers at military galleys have be doing their part to ensure our service members stay well-fed.
“Across this region approximately 1.7 million meals have been prepared to support our tenant commands, supporting commands and other branches of the military,” said Master Chief Culinary Specialist Jewel Dyson, Naval Station Norfolk Base Galley. “We also service those who are transferring duty stations in and out of our area. In some instances, we have supported families who were in a ROM on base installations, without the ability to obtain food from other sources.”
According to Greg Wright, director of food services and logistics at Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL), providing meals to service members on ROM is a process that has been continually improved.
“NSGL has provided a variety of meal types and deliveries. Initial support started out with the typical military bag meals being delivered to loading docks of ROM locations,” Wright said. “After getting started, our operations shifted to better meal options. We had a remote ROM operation supported at 13 hotels in the local area with vendor-packaged meals, two hot and two cold per day, for up to 9000 meals per day. Other situations received combinations of commercial shelf-stable meal kits, to-go container hot meals, and MREs (meal ready to eat).”
“From ROM meals, to to-go meals, to menu prep and planning, to feeding their normal patrons, our food service teams have adapted and overcame every obstacle that they have been faced with, with superior quality results,” added Dyson.
Galley personnel prepare meals daily, in the safest and most sanitary means possible. They package and hold the meals until they are picked up by the ROM member’s command representative. Once the meals are picked up, the command rep delivers the meal to the service member’s ROM residence.
“We owe it to our Sailors to provide them the best possible meal that we can within our resources,” said Wright. “If we expect them to remain safely sheltered for two weeks, we have to support them.”
Though the pandemic has placed new, challenging requirements on culinary staffs throughout the military, they remain dedicated to mission accomplishment.
“All of this was accomplished during a 60 percent reduction of manning in the Combined Food Operations (CFO) Department here,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Jesus Fimbres, leading petty officer, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth CFO. “This really shows the hard work that was put in while we still prepared meals for the staff and inpatients here at NMCP.”
“The job of a culinary specialist is to provide wholesome, nutritious meals to our patrons, at all times,” Dyson added. “The COVID pandemic highlighted our mission to everyone due to providing ROM meals. Food service personnel across this nation pride themselves on the job that they do for others. We take pride in providing that meal to our patrons everywhere.”
Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) is the regional coordinator for all shore-based naval personnel and shore activities in the Mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses 20 states, 14 installations, and 50 Naval Operational Support Centers (NOSCs). As the naval shore installation management headquarters for the Mid-Atlantic region, CNRMA provides coordination of base operating support functions for operating forces throughout the region in support of the Fleet, Fighter and Family.