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Defense Logistics Agency Plans Ahead to Get Thanksgiving Meals to Troops Around the World

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Every Thanksgiving, servicemembers around the world enjoy a holiday meal thanks to the hard work of the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support and its Subsistence supply chain.

Despite the effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on supply chains, planning and communication, a dedicated workforce and strong relationships are the key ingredients that help DLA Troop Support get food out in time for the holiday.

A soldier chats with other men seated at a table.
Thanksgiving Meal
Army Lt. Gen. Terry Ferrell, the commanding general for U.S. Army Central, chats with deployed soldiers during Thanksgiving lunch Nov. 26, 2020, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Despite being away from family, soldiers are in high spirits as they celebrate the holidays and work towards mission success.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Jermain Jackson, Army Reserves
VIRIN: 201126-A-VF251-205

"The holiday meal should look more normal this year, with in-person dining returning in many locations," DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Eric Shirley said. "I am so proud of the workforce here at Troop Support. They work tirelessly for months to make sure this meal happens. Their advance planning and communication with our vendors and customers prevented major delays in getting the ingredients necessary for that traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It truly encapsulates our dedication to the warfighter."

The planning and preparation for the troops' holiday meal starts as early as March at DLA Troop Support. Many ingredients for the meals are on hand at prime vendor locations by September, and the overseas locations start receiving high-volume items, like the turkeys and more than 192 tons of trimmings, in October.

For more than 50 years, DLA Troop Support has been providing traditional Thanksgiving food to field kitchens, dining facilities and ship galleys in the United States, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Korea, Japan, Qatar, Philippines, Guam, Singapore and other locations around the world where US service members are deployed.

Soldiers serve food to people standing in line at a buffet.
Holiday Help
Leadership from the 408th Contracting Support Brigade based in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, serve junior soldiers Thanksgiving lunch Nov. 26, 2020. Leaders like to express their gratitude for all the hard work soldiers complete in order to continue the mission by taking time out of their day to serve during the holiday season.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Jermain Jackson, Army Reserves
VIRIN: 201126-A-VF251-410C

"Thanksgiving is one of the most important meals we work on all year," Army Col. Larry Dean, director of the Subsistence supply chain at DLA Troop Support said. "Our entire team works on it for months, and we don't stop until the big day. Our team works hard, and I appreciate their dedication not only as the director of this supply chain, but as a proud member of the Army who has enjoyed these meals when I could not be home with my family. It means so much to have that taste of home on Thanksgiving when you can't be there."

This year, service members around the world received an estimated:

  • 5,706 whole turkeys
  • 59,666 pounds of roasted turkeys
  • 99,187 pounds of beef
  • 51,994 pounds of ham
  • 43,767 pounds of shrimp
  • 38,400 pounds of sweet potatoes
  • 68,465 pounds of pies and cakes
  • 23,461 gallons of eggnog
  • And many other holiday treats

The Subsistence team worked diligently with regional vendors both locally and across the globe to ensure that military food service professionals had what they needed to prepare a festive holiday meal for those away from home this Thanksgiving.

"We are currently dealing with the same supply issues that the commercial industry is dealing with," Robin Whaley, DLA Troop Support's Subsistence chief of customer operations for the continental United States said. "We have been working with our vendors well in advance of the holiday to reduce chances that the necessary items won't be available on the big day."

A cornucopia of fruit and bread is on a table.
Thanksgiving Cornucopia
A cornucopia made of styrofoam spills bread and fruits. It is one of several such decorations serving Thanksgiving food at the dining facility at Camp Wright in Asadabad, Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2009. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, contractors and locals all ate together throughout the day and into the night remembering to be thankful for friendship and fellowship.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Brian Boisvert
VIRIN: 091126-F-ZZ999-005

DLA Troop Support supplies America's armed forces with $21.5 billion annually of food, uniforms, protective equipment, medicine, medical supplies, construction and equipment.

As the nation's combat logistics support agency, DLA has been managing the global supply chain — from raw materials to end user disposition — for the U.S. military around the world for 60 years. Today, DLA also leverages our unique capabilities to support the growing whole-of-government mission with other federal, state and local agencies and partner and allied nations.

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