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

March 8, 2021 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

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.

Three men in military uniforms and one man in a police uniform stand near each other in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Defending the Capitol
Army National Guardsmen Sgt. Gio Carter, Sgt. Aaron Hampton and Pvt. Cody Harrison provide security with U.S. Capitol Police officer Mitchell Dunay, near Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 3, 2021.
Photo By: Army Capt. Joe Legros, Maryland Army National Guard
VIRIN: 210203-Z-SD031-5001

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.

"[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."

A man in a business suit speaks with a man in a military uniform.
Capitol Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III meets with National Guardsmen and senior leaders at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 29, 2021.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Erica Jaros, Maryland Army National Guard
VIRIN: 210129-Z-DH163-1049

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.