Subsistence supply chain stands up new food services division

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Bill Addison, DLA Troop Support 

The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support subsistence supply chain wants to help the military save time and money by operating the services’ dining facilities, the agency lead on integrated food services said.

“It’s no secret the Department of Defense is facing significant budget cuts over the next few years, and the military services are taking a larger part of those cuts,” John Sheehan said. “We see an opportunity to help save the department, and more specifically the military services, a significant amount of money over the next several years.

DLA currently only handles the contracts for food, while the military services handle their own contracting when it comes to operating dining facilities. By consolidating both under one agency, DLA Troop Support would provide the military services with a one-stop shop for all their garrison feeding needs while leveraging DLA’s industry knowledge and buying power to reduce overall costs.

Sheehan, who served as the garrison feeding customer operations division chief prior to being named chief of the integrated food services division, said DLA Troop Support commissioned a cost and benefit analysis of operating an IFS program within the continental United States. The analysis looked at cost- comparable programs, including colleges, the potential benefits to the services, as well as the gaps between DLA’s capabilities and current contracts.

“What we found was that by leveraging our expertise in managing large national contracts, a DLA-led program could serve more than 500 dining facilities worldwide,” he said. “We’d also be able to provide a full-time dedicated team to aggressively manage those contracts and pursue any discounts offered by our suppliers,” he said.

The result, he said, would be large-scale, consolidated service contracts, which would improve DOD’s buying power and reduce prices. He added that a DLA-led IFS program would also reduce the financial risk incurred by the military services and shift that risk to DLA.

“We see this as a win-win,” he said. “We hope that over time, the services see it that way, too.”

Sheehan admitted that DLA Troop Support faces challenges in implementing the IFS program, the most prevalent being from the military services themselves.

“This is something they’ve always done for themselves, and I think from their perspective it’s something they already do fairly well,” he said. “We’re trying to show them that we’re not trying to take anything away from them, but rather add an extra level of value to what DLA already does for them.”

To that end, DLA Troop Support Subsistence has published a white paper, listing the results of the cost analysis as well as highlighting their leaders’ vision of the value a DLA-led integrated food service program would provide. DLA Troop Support and DLA Troop Support Subsistence leaders are also meeting with military leaders to showcase that value, as well.

DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen Steven Shapiro said he believes integrated food services are the future of DLA Troop Support Subsistence and the way the military handles garrison feeding.

“Many of our customers want us to manage the entire supply chain from procurement to service, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.

Sheehan said DLA’s method of entering the food service arena will be like using a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.

“It’s about strategically helping the services achieve their food programs goals,” he said. “Little by little we hope to show the value we bring to the table.”

Photo: Two airmen reaching into salad bar with tongs
Enlarge Image

Service members serve themselves from the salad bar during the grand reopening of the new and improved Breeze dining facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain recently stood up a new division aimed at operating military dining facilities within the continental United States. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.

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