Guard Works to Ensure Troops Defending Capitol Have Safe, Nutritious Food

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (March 08, 2021) -- Recent news reports have said National Guardsmen in Washington, D.C., who are providing protection to the U.S. Capitol there have been served substandard food and that some have gotten sick.

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said he met last week with the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, and that the National Guard and its leaders have stepped up efforts to ensure that all guardsmen working on Capitol Hill are getting healthy meals.

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"[Hokanson] and National Guard leaders are taking very seriously the need to make sure that the troops have safe and nutritious food," Kirby said during a briefing today. "There's routine inspections. He himself goes down there multiple times a week to eat with the National Guardsmen -- to eat what they're eating."

The National Guard is working with the contractors who provide food to the guardsmen to address any concerns, and are also visiting the businesses supplying the food to assess the quality of meals being prepared, Kirby said.

"We do spot check on meals for cooking temperature and overall quality," Kirby said. "The vendor facilities have been inspected multiple times with no substantial ... issues having been recorded. So again there [is] a lot of activity on this, a lot of visibility, and rightly so."

According to Kirby, no National Guard members have been hospitalized because of illness from food. Additionally, he said, of 26,000 who have been deployed, and of the 5,100 who remain on duty at the Capitol, about 50 have been treated for gastrointestinal complaints.

"Six of them were treated as outpatients at military treatment facilities, others were handled at an aid station set up as part of the task force," he said.

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