National Guard Confirms Reports of Undercooked Meals

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
March 2, 2021 Updated: March 4, 2021

The National Guard on Tuesday confirmed that some troops in Washington have been served undercooked food.

Less than .01 percent of the catered meals appear to be undercooked, Lt. Col. Robert Carver, director of the DC Joint Information Center, told The Epoch Times via email.

“There have been no cases of food-borne illness reported. We’re working with our contractors to address concerns. We go to their places of business and spot check meals for cooking temperature and overall quality. We examine the kitchens for safety and cleanliness. Vendor facilities have been inspected multiple times, and no substantial issues have been recorded. Contracting personnel visit the D.C. Armory daily during the delivery of meals. We observe the deliveries, take pictures of the meals and talk to soldiers on the line about the food they get,” he said.

The Michigan National Guard had on Monday called reports of troops being served poorly prepared food are “very concerning.”

“The firsthand accounts and pictures of undercooked food being served clearly shows that what is being given to Michigan’s service members is unacceptable,” the guard said in a statement to news outlets.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, called on acting Army Secretary John Whitley and Michigan’s adjutant general to communicate with National Guard Chief Gen. Dan Hokanson, who agreed to address the shortcomings of the current contract to provide food to troops, according to the Michigan guard.

“The health and wellbeing of our Michigan National Guard service members is paramount to their success as they continue to serve in missions in the United States and around the globe. Senior leaders of the Michigan National Guard will remain personally engaged with this issue and will continue to push for accountability and a solution to the ill-prepared meals being served,” it added.

Photographs published by WXYZ this week showed undercooked meat and metal shavings in food. The broadcaster said the pictures, provided by a whistleblower, were of meals that were served to troops.

The whistleblower said nearly 75 meals were thrown out on Sunday after the shavings were found, and that some troops were sickened after consuming undercooked food.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) on Monday wrote to Whitley and Hokanson saying service members were forced to spend their own money to procure adequate sustenance because of the poor quality of the food from private catering companies.

“While I understand the ad hoc nature of these deployments and appreciate the tremendous efforts made by many of those under your command, it is simply unacceptable that these men and women are being fed chicken with the feathers still attached and raw ground beef,” he wrote.

“After several attempts to rectify the situation, I believe the only appropriate course of action is for the immediate cancellation of the existing food contract, the disbursement of per diem for the remaining duration of the mission and to provide retroactive per diem.”

national guard
Members of the National Guard walk through U.S. Capitol grounds in Washington on Feb. 13, 2021. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) also sent a letter to Hokanson, calling for him to take immediate action to remedy the situation.

“I’m pushing for an immediate fix to this problem,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

Carver, the National Guard spokesperson, said that 78,000 meals were provided daily when nearly 26,000 Guard members were in Washington at the peak of the current mission.

Approximately 5,200 members from various states are still in Washington. Some 18,000 meals are being provided per day.

“That adds up to more than 1.2 million meals since the mission started. With that volume of catered meals, you would expect to see issues with some of them, and we have. At the end of the day, it’s in the military’s best interest to identify and solve problems that could adversely impact the ability of our force to perform the mission,” he said.

Guard members were deployed to the nation’s capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

Michigan has 983 members in Washington.

Troops are supporting the Secret Service and the U.S. Capitol Police.

According to the Michigan National Guard, Michigan’s troops “are scheduled to return to Michigan shortly after March 12, the agreed upon end date for this deployment.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.