Freedom Inn expands healthy options menu

The Freedom Inn Dining Facility offers a salad bar to patrons and will add a wider variety of healthy foods in the spring. The selections will include a whole wheat pasta bar, wrap sandwiches and homemade desserts such as bread pudding. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

The Freedom Inn Dining Facility plans to offer a wider selection of healthy foods for its patrons beginning in the spring.

The facility serves breakfast, lunch and dinner even days a week to active-duty service members, Reservists, National Guardsmen, Department of Defense civilian employees, retirees, family members and contractors.

Melba Taylor, contract manager at the Freedom Inn, said the expanded menu is part of the facility’s mission to “fuel the military.”

“If we are providing the healthiest options, then we know we are fulfilling the mission,” she said.

Taylor is the contract manager for the Maryland Business Enterprise Program and its subcontractor Son Quality Food. The contractor is responsible for providing the staff of cooks and food service personnel.

The facility has hired a new manager, Tom Allen. The Logistics Readiness Center, which oversees the contract for the Army, has also hired James Mixon, the new Food Program manager.

“My goal is to move in the right direction and keep things rolling,” Mixon said. “We want people to know that they are not limited to the food court or Burger King. We are a healthier option.

“We already know about the dangers of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease and we don’t want to contribute to it,” Allen said. “Not every young Soldier knows how to eat healthy.”

The plans for the expanded menu include a whole-wheat pasta bar, which will feature a vegeterian offering of marinara sauce and pesto sauce; a baked potato bar; wrap sandwiches; white and brown rice bowls with a selection of chicken or beef toppings and avocado and fresh vegetables; and hot desserts of homemade bread pudding, cobbler pie and rice pudding.

Beverages will include vitamin water, club soda and a selection of brand-name electrolyte drinks. Green teas will also be offered.

The facility was recently renovated to expand its main serving lines and now has new state-of-the art steam tables, a new deli bar, a new pizza station, new salad and soup bars, and new steam table for hot foods.

The Freedom Inn will continue to offer its existing healthy options menu, which was introduced when Fort Meade was part of the DoD’s Healthy Base Initiative five years ago.

HBI was a pilot project initiated at 14 Army installations to promote health and resiliency in service members, families, retirees and DoD civilians.

The purpose of HBI was to “encourage an alternative to the national trend toward obesity and tobacco use,” said Charles E. Milam, the DoD’s principal director for military community and family policy, in an article published by the American Forces Press Service in 2013.

The Freedom Inn menu also includes made-to-order omelettes, turkey sausage, bacon, hot biscuits, pancakes, French toast, yogurt, gourmet veggie burgers, turkey burgers, chicken, fish, low-salt luncheon meats and soups, and low-sugar desserts.

Cost is $3.85 for breakfast, $5.60 for lunch and $4.85 for dinner.

The facility serves breakfast from Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.; lunch from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. (DoD civilians and contractors are served from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.); and dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

On weekends, breakfast is served from 8 to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 1 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Taylor said the expanded healthy option menu may first be introduced through a trial period so the facility can get feedback from patrons.

“We’re going into a new phase,” she said. “I’m excited about what we want to implement.”

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