Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Knives out over army food

A sample from Facebook of Waiouru's "delectable delights'' served up to the troops.
A sample from Facebook of Waiouru's "delectable delights'' served up to the troops.

Defence Force troops based at Waiouru Army camp are so frustrated by "disgusting" meals they have set up a Facebook page to highlight what they're served.

The page, titled "Waiouru's delectable delights", shows pre-packaged meals with stews and mashed foods and one soup that appeared to be vegetables immersed in a watery liquid.

Dietitian Nadia Lim said not only were the meals unappealing, they were too small to feed active soldiers.

But the Defence Force defended the menu and said the food provided "adequate energy and nutrients" to ensure personnel were "operationally ready and able to maintain peak health and fitness".

One disgruntled Defence Force member, who did not want to be named, said the "mess at Waiouru is absolutely disgusting".

"It really is horrendous and something must be done about it. Our boys do not deserve to be treated like this."

The staff member reckoned prison inmates received better food than soldiers.

The Defence Force budgets $12.86 a day for each soldier's meals, while the Corrections Department has a budget of $4.50 a day for each inmate.

Ms Lim said meals served at Waiouru were "not attractive looking", but there was evidence of vegetables in most of the Facebook pictures.

There were often issues with pre-packaged meals and having to use foods that kept well, Ms Lim said.

"But I often think with ... meals like this, some creative inspiration and real integrity ... I always do think you can improve them."

Simple measures, such as garnish, herbs or a lemon wedge, could make a big difference to the taste, she said.

The meals did not look large enough for troops who would spend much of the day being active.

"In some of these meals there's just one potato cut in half and that's definitely not enough carbohydrates for someone who's really active - even I'd be starving."

A Defence Force spokesman said the meals on the Facebook page were the ones troops ate while they were in the field.

"These meals allow troops to continue with their training without having to return to camp."

They were "slightly different" to the meals served at the base, he said.

"Many menus are common across the NZDF ... however, standard nutritional values are expected."

In August, the Waiouru mess delivered 56,000 meals and received 25 complaints about them, he said.

"The most common complaint was that their first choice of meal was not available. This has since been addressed."

He said the Defence Force was working with the contracted caterers to address concerns with meals being provided at Waiouru.

- APNZ

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