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ALA Summary

I never thought I would have had the opportunity to present Hots&Cots at a conference let alone where AMC Sergeant Major Windham would be in attendance and would tell me he checks H&C daily. 

I had the opportunity to speak at the ALA Expo on April 2nd about Hots&Cots. In attendance of this conference were AAFES, AMC, G4, and other abbreviated groups that make decisions on dining experience in the military, to name a few. When I started H&C, I was not aware of ALA when I stared H&C back in October or how many hands were involved in the dining experience for the military. ALA is a trade association that advocates for the quality of life for America’s military and their families in the dining world. Everyone with ALA was incredibly friendly and still riding the high of speaking at their conference. I chatted with many of the ALA members and I get the impression they want the best for service members and eating. The president said during the opening speech that "Today is a major event" and it really can be if the military can makes improvements to the dining experience for service members. 

I had the opportunity to chat with AMC and G4 about the dining experience, kiosks, and H&C. I actually spent almost an hour chatting with AMC and they were very receptive. The message they are conveying to leaders is that kiosks are not replacing dining facilities. I understand that interpretation may vary, and the image of DFACs closing on weekends does not help. I did share that from what I’m seeing is that the messaging is not getting to lower enlisted. AMC is going to see what their PAO can share with me when they are back in the office.

Many that I chatted with agree that the kiosks are great for supplementing the dining facilities and not a replacement.

The DFACs closing on weekends is a command decision and not an AMC\G4 decision. One reason for that decision is due to the 92G shortage and the strain on them caused by their extended duties between DFACs and field chow.

AMC was giving a presentation on this on the 3rd, but I left the conference early to be home for my son’s birthday. However, the takeaway points AMC shared with me are that they want to move to a campus-style dining experience. How that is envisioned varies among leaders, but that is the end goal. They want soldiers to use their meal cards to be able to use their meal plans at the dining facility, on post restaurant, and commissary. So in the meantime to cover the shortage of manpower and to bridge the gap they’re using kiosks.

If you’re not aware, AR 40-25 is a joint regulation on Nutrition & Menu Standards, and I did bring this up in my presentation in relation to Kiosks. Because of how the kiosks are structured in the overall dining experience, the AR does not cover them.

Key moments from the conference:

•    AMC saw I was presenting on the roster and made it a point to chat with me because the post on the empty kiosk at Carson made it all the way to Secretary of the Army. It really started something, and AMC had to fill out a congressional inquiry report. They also said it was a great learning experience. So that’s neat that Sec. of Army was briefed on.
•    I spent about 15 minutes chatting with SGM Windham who checks H&C daily and to reach out to him anytime if there’s an issue with barracks or DFACs. 
•    I respect every entity that was present but one group that was involved in the Carson situation viewed how that went through a different lens. Whether they agree or not what is important is the soldier at the kiosks were unable to get food. 
•    Lee Kelley was the keynote speaker, and she gave a phenomenal presentation around food insecurity (not just access to food, but access to healthy food) and we chatted very briefly as she was chatting with many others. She did say she was going to reach out though.

I hope to obtain recordings of the presentations to share. In the meantime, please continue posting to Hots&Cots, both the positive and negative experiences. Positive posts help highlight what is working well and inform leaders about successful initiatives.

Presentation with notes

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