MARCH 20, 2015, JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – The Air National Guard recently followed suit with the Air Force by rolling out a new program designed to allow Airmen to more easily choose performance-enhancing foods in unit dining facilities.
Called Go For Green, the program helps members easily identify the nutritional value of food choices.
“The Go For Green program is essentially a healthier way of providing meals to our service members in the Guard,” said Nick Ebert, ANG sustainment services program manager. “As Airmen are going through the meal line, they can look at the color codes on the menu item and make an easy selection on what they want to get. The goal of the program is to encourage members to select nutrient-dense foods and beverages that enhance their overall performance, readiness, health and well-being.”
Stemming from the Department of Defense’s Healthy Base Initiative, Go For Green places each menu item in one of three categories: Green, yellow or red, based on the item’s nutritional content. Foods recommended to eat most often are coded green. They are the least-processed foods with highest nutritional content or lower caloric density. Foods coded yellow are those to eat in moderation. Finally, the red foods are those to eat rarely, and are typically highly processed foods or foods with high amounts of added sugar, salt or fat.
In conjunction with the implementation of Go For Green, the directorate of manpower, personnel and services has recently revamped the ANG menu as well.
“The younger generation of Airmen joining the Guard is more interested in healthier options for meals,” said Ebert. “I’ve been in 16 years, and the type of food that my generation loved was still all over the menu. So while we were making the shift to Go for Green, we thought it would be good to complement it with a new, healthier menu.”
The menu was developed by Services Airmen from across the ANG, who brought years of experience from their civilian careers to the project.
“We had a lot of culinary talent and nutritional background [on the menu team],” said Master Sgt. Marla Urban, 184th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services noncommissioned officer in charge, and menu team member. “Everyone brought something to the table, and we were able to add variety and input from different regions of the country.”
“It’s a challenge to come up with a menu which appeals to everyone across the Guard,” Urban said. “We have 89 wings [and units] across the country, which made it difficult. But the product [our menu team] came up with is a great product. We were able to implement a lot of the items that people told us they would like to see. Grab and Go menus now are authorized, [for example] pre-made wraps or salads, with a side and drink. You can come in, grab it and go back to the office.”
In addition to encouraging more green on their plates, Ebert also hopes to see Airmen finishing their drill weekend with a little extra green in their pockets.
“Hopefully the new menu will draw in more of the new Airmen who are now spending their own money going outside the gate to eat,” said Ebert. “We can fill that gap and offer many of the same healthier choices offered off base, like a panini or wrap, and bring them back into our dining facilities.”
The new menu is expected to be fully implemented throughout the ANG by May unit training assemblies.