Whistleblowers stationed with the Michigan National Guard at the U.S. Capitol say troops are feeling demoralized after being fed disgusting meals that have made more than a dozen soldiers sick, sending some to the hospital.
— Melissa Nann Burke (@nannburke) March 2, 2021
In one recent message to a lawmaker, a soldier complained that the meat was almost always served undercooked after sitting in its packaging for hours.
“Multiple soldiers have been getting sick and vomiting after eating, and most of the food is being thrown away,” the soldier wrote. “Morale is very bad; many have served overseas and cannot believe the quality of food they are being fed here.”
About 1,000 soldiers from the Michigan National Guard have been stationed at the Capitol to “provide security” after the Capitol riot on January 6. They reportedly make up about 20 percent of the National Guard presence at the Capitol.
The National Guard Bureau hired a catering service to feed the soldiers, who are staying in local hotels. Their deployment is set to end March 12.
Troops have complained that lunch habitually arrives many hours late, the meals lack options for vegetarians, and breakfasts consist of just a piece of fruit and a hard roll without any protein.
A concerned staff sergeant told 7 Action News on that nearly 75 meals were thrown out Sunday after metal shavings were found in the food, while other meals showed up with undercooked meat, making soldiers sick.
“Yesterday, for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw beef in them,” the sergeant told the news outlet on Monday. “Just yesterday, the lunches were, soldiers had found metal shavings in their food.”
“Yesterday, for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw beef in them,” the sergeant said. "Just yesterday, the lunches were, soldiers had found metal shavings in their food.”https://t.co/YjkaLeGugi
— FOX 17 (@FOX17) March 2, 2021
The sergeant also complained that breakfasts have been inadequate.
“You were getting maybe a Danish and some sort of juice,” he told 7 Action News. “And then we had certain days where it was clearly a dinner role and Sunny D.”
After undercooked food made more than a dozen soldiers sick, the staff sergeant says their complaints went up the chain of command, and there was a noticeable change in the meals being delivered.
“They said alright, we’re going to make sure we spot check them. And we’re also going to start having them add temperatures to it,” the whistleblower said. “At 140, you cook that chicken, undercook it to 140, and now you’re telling… you’re telling us that it’s… a 30-minute drive. This is what they say on the little placard that’s (inaudible) good for four hours. No, it’s not. It wasn’t good from the start and now it’s had hours to become even more dangerous.”
According to U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), other state guard troops have been grappling with the same problem.
“It’s not only a Michigan guard problem. I stop and talk to all the guard out there, and they said it’s improved, but still far from perfect, said Dingell, who made sure to place blame on the National Guard for the substandard meals, rather than Congress.
“Ultimately, it’s the National Guard that hired the contractor — not those of us on the Hill,” she said.
“What I was told is, if they had 10 meals, they were throwing four or five of them away — they couldn’t even eat them,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, (R-Mich.), who joined the troops for lunch on the Capitol grounds, last week.
Huizenga and other Michigan lawmakers said they started making calls when the complaints started. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, said she plans to have dinner with Michigan soldiers this week to see if the situation has improved.
“We’ve had some challenges with the food,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the Michigan guard expressed concern that the catered food was not meeting expectations.
“The firsthand accounts and pictures of undercooked food being served clearly shows that what is being given to Michigan’s service members is unacceptable,” the spokeswoman said.
“Every assurance was given that the issue would be addressed and corrected,” she added.
The Michigan guard noted the food contract was awarded and is monitored by the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, and that Michigan’s Adjutant General, Major Gen. Paul Rogers, has communicated all concerns directly to Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard.
“Senior leaders of the Michigan National Guard will remain personally engaged with this issue and will continue to push for accountability and a solution to the ill-prepared meals being served,” the Michigan guard spokeswoman said.