Sodexo: Military Dining and Quality of Life

U.S. Marines surveyed said social interaction and physical environment are important factors when considering dining options, said Elena Victoria, VP of marketing at Sodexo Government.

(Sodexo is No. 6 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list)

Elena Victoria

Napoleon has been credited with the saying, "An army marches on its stomach." An infantryman himself, Napoleon understood first-hand the importance of supplying an army on the move in which it was common practice for each soldier to procure his own food from villages along the campaign trail. (Apparently "locally sourced" and "farm to table" had an entirely different connotation in the early 19th century!) So dire was the need to feed the troops, food-related innovations, such as boiling and canning, were inspired during Napoleon's infamous campaign to Moscow (Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier, Jakob Walter, 1991).

Fast forward to the 21st Century. Fueling our soldiers to maximize combat readiness and resilience remains a strategic imperative. The military–and the civilians who feed them through garrison food service contracts–continue to explore how "three squares" can be optimized to create an ever better warfighter.

In a survey commissioned by Sodexo, the nation's largest federal foodservice contractor, in which Marines were asked about their dining preferences, food quality and flavor ranked, as one would expect, number one when choosing to eat in garrison mess halls. But close behind was a second factor: the desire to connect with friends, family and colleagues in a relaxing environment. Survey participants, all Marines, told us that social interaction and physical environment, two pillars of quality of life—the ultimate driver of human performance–are significant factors when considering dining options.

Based on this and other consumer insights work as well as our understanding that today's soldiers are under greater physical and mental stress than ever before, we might reconsider the in-garrison dining model. While nutrition should, of course, remain at the pinnacle of an effective dining program aimed at driving readiness and resilience, there are numerous, cost effective opportunities to create an environment that drives military members to choose to eat in the dining facilities and promote their overall health and wellness.

For example, mobile technology can accelerate the food ordering process (picture pre-ordering your meal via an app), reducing time wasted waiting on a "chow line. " Wi-Fi connectivity in a mess hall can help soldiers use their down time to connect to training apps, digital communities, and base resources. Simple physical elements such as comfortable seating and lighting can help create an environment that restores both body and the mind. The Air Force, through its Food Transformation Initiative, has even taken steps to broaden access to dining facilities, expanding nutritious meal options to the entire base community, including families. This was not the case in my days as an active duty spouse, when fast food was the only on-base dining option available to me and my child.

We've come a long way from Napoleon's system of military feeding, but opportunities to drive readiness and resilience through military dining abound. As General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, said, "Marines must dedicate themselves to preparing their bodies and minds for war…You've got to look at how you eat; you've got to look at how you live your life." An innovative approach to in-garrison dining can help our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines become ever more effective warfighters by helping them make wise nutritional choices and enhancing their quality of military life.

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There tends to be a very black and white viewpoint, but women bring a new perspective and approach challenges differently.

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While women have fought to win the rights that we have today, the battle is not over, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), where women are still significantly underrepresented.

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Originally Published by Sodexo.

Candidates who meet me now may not know my background (unless they visit my LinkedIn profile, of course), and while I am currently a Strategic Recruiter for Sodexo's Clinical Technology Management opportunities, I spent around 20 years in the field as a Biomed myself!

From what I've found, many people aren't sure what a Biomed career consists of - or sometimes they don't even realize it exists.

In a nutshell, biomedical equipment technicians, also called biomedical engineers, biomeds or BMETs for short, hold a critical position in filling the gap between medicine and technology. They make it possible for medical staff to use state of the art medical devices, providing the highest level of patient care.

So how did I end up there? In high school, I loved math and science, and it seemed to promise real opportunities for our changing world. This was when I discovered biomedical engineering, which combined my two passions - medicine and fixing things.

Unfortunately, there are some young girls who still grow up thinking that engineering and science aren't meant for women, so it is important to me to show that women can thrive in the world of engineering (or in any career they choose). Because of this, I have chosen to share my personal career path and experiences with the students at my daughter's local high school and with you on this blog.

Today, gender equality and diversity is just as important as ever. Imagine the great advances that could occur in engineering if men and women were working together more often to solve problems. While women have fought to win the rights that we have today, the battle is not over, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), where women are still significantly underrepresented.

In my current role, I have the great opportunity to search the country for Healthcare Technology Management professionals and hope that I can use my position to inspire more women to consider the field from an early age.

For those who may be interested in learning more about Sodexo and the jobs we have available, I highly recommend attending in person events, like the upcoming AAMI Conference & Convention, where Sodexo Clinical Technology Management operators and recruiters will be there in person to answer your questions and help you get to know our company better.

In the meantime, head over to our dedicated career page to read stories from both men and women in the Sodexo CTM organization and find out how you can become part of the team.

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Originally Published on Sodexo.

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