Pentagon ups food levels for troops' annual Thanksgiving meal as in-person dining resumes

The Pentagon has upped the amount of entrees, sides and desserts distributed to troops on Thanksgiving this year by nearly 50 percent as in-person dining largely returns after being nixed in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. 

U.S. troops stationed overseas will receive nearly 60,000 pounds of roasted turkey, roughly 52,000 pounds of ham, 38,400 pounds of sweet potatoes and nearly 68,500 pounds of pies and cakes delivered by Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Troop Support. 

The portions are an increase from 2020 numbers, when they were served nearly 51,000 pounds of turkey, half the ham and sweet potatoes and a third of the deserts in grab-and-go style takeout instead of large group gatherings in dining facilities to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus.

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“The holiday meal should look more normal this year, with in-person dining returning in many locations,” DLA Troop Support head Army Brig. Gen. Eric Shirley said in a statement released Monday. 

Shirley added that the Troop Support workforce worked “tirelessly for months to make sure this meal happens,” with advance planning and communication with vendors and customers to prevent major delays in getting the needed ingredients.

Altogether, DLA is shipping more than 360,000 pounds of Thanksgiving food to service members stationed in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Korea, Japan, Qatar and Philippines, Guam and Singapore, among other locations.

The provisions also include about 99,200 pounds of roast beef — more than 25,000 pounds more than last year — 43,767 pounds of shrimp and about 23,460 gallons of eggnog.

Even with recent supply chain issues, Pentagon officials said they will get the food out in time for the holiday thanks to advanced planning that started as early as March. 

“We are currently dealing with the same supply issues that the commercial industry is dealing with,” said Robin Whaley, DLA Troop Support’s subsistence chief of customer operations for the continental U.S. “We have been working with our vendors well in advance of the holiday to reduce chances that the necessary items won’t be available on the big day.”

One other major change in distribution this year: DLA will not be shipping Thanksgiving foods to Afghanistan, a first in 20 years.