News: Seaside Galley Supporting More Than the Military
Story by Spc. Megan Burnham
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - What people see when they walk into Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Seaside Galley at Camp America is professional employees and a clean atmosphere where quality food is prepared and served four times a day. This kind of work ethic, however, is being dedicated toward more than just the military personnel, contractors and civilians.
"Our mission is to make sure we have good quality and quantity of food," said Nathaniel Ward, manager of Seaside Galley. "We make sure we have the highest expectation as far as professional food."
The cooks and food service workers of the Seaside Galley have "more on their plates" than regular food preparation and service; they are assigned the task of providing full-course meals to the enemy combatants detained here.
"This is a very good yet challenging job," commented Ion McCurdy, the Seaside's assistant manager. "Experience in food service works to benefit in the process."
The galley has always been the food provider to the detainees and the process the galley is required to follow is very strict.
The galley's first task in the process is trying to obtain as much food from the vendors that is requested by the detainees.
"We try to make sure they get what they want," said Ward. "That is what we're here for, to support."
Once the menu is decided, specific food is brought in for a particular meal. The lunch menu for June 30, 2008 was spaghetti with marinara sauce, a side salad and baklava for desert with juice to drink.
Meals are prepared differently to accommodate the health factors of each detainee. Some will receive regular meals while others will receive vegetarian, bland, soft or diabetic meals.
"The preparation of the military and detainee meals are no where similar to each other," commented Ward.
"We have separate cooks for the detainees and cooks for the regular meals."
Ward went on to comment that the main difference between military and detainee meals are the spices that are used in preparation.
The process normally takes about two hours to cook the meals. However, prepping for each meal is started many hours before the due time.
"Prepping is the key to the operation," said Ward. "Once prepped, it doesn't take long to finish because everything is in place."
When the main meal has been cooked it is placed on the serving line and put into clam shells (to-go boxes) for easier transportation.
Once the food has been cooked and thoroughly prepared, inspected and packed into insulated food containers (mermites), the next step of the process is to transport the food to the camps. Navy personnel are waiting to assist in unloading the meals.
"We make sure everything is there," said a Navy Seaman involved in the meal distribution process. "We also make sure everything is right before giving the food to the detainees."
As the food is being placed into the individual clam shells for Camp 5 and Camp 6, a Joint Detention Group Preventative Medicine Technician will check the sanitation level of the food by making sure the transportation process is proper and the temperature level is accurate. This is a random monitoring process that is conducted each month to observe what the Seaside Galley is doing and to ensure they're preparing everything in accordance with standard operating procedure.
"We want to make sure bacteria growth is limited and the detainees are receiving fresh products," said the JDG PM technician. "We want to make sure they get safe food."
Results of the most recent inspection left Seaside in a satisfactory standing – all food temperatures at appropriate levels and an overall good job.
"The people here (at Seaside Galley) work hard and do an outstanding job," said Ward. "They all know what they are supposed to do."