The Korea Herald


Military to make menus more flexible to suit soldiers’ tastes

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : March 6, 2023 - 16:05

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South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Monday announced a new food service modernization program for this year that meets more of soldiers’ preferences, so that they could enjoy more varied options at barracks starting from the next month.

The new plan seeks to end the previous military policy of providing meals to around 500,000 enlisted soldiers based on standardized menus and ingredients that were unilaterally imposed by the military authorities without considering soldiers’ predilections for food.

South Korean troops have so far designed a daily menu to meet the allocated amount of food ingredients that must be supplied to soldiers. For instance, the existing food service program mandates that a soldier should consume 8.84 grams of white radish, 1.54 grams of green pumpkin, and 3.41 grams of napa cabbage per day.

But the new policy -- which will be implemented this April -- enables military units to independently select menus to reflect the preferences of enlisted soldiers as long as meal plans cover their nutritional needs and are within budget.

The South Korean military will also renounce its mandatory consumption rate of livestock products. For instance, troops are currently required to allocate 15 percent of pork loin and 22 percent of pork foreleg when stir-frying pork.

But according to the new program, the units will be able to freely choose livestock products within the budget.

The frequency of providing unflavored milk, which is not popular among soldiers, will be reduced. The military will instead supply flavored milk products, soybean milk and juice to soldiers to reflect their preferences.

The South Korean troops will also be able to provide various brands of processed food products, including tofu, sugar, salt and cooking oil. Military units do not have the option to choose brands as only a single company is selected as a provider.

“The Defense Ministry will continue to pursue policies to enhance military meals such as introducing up-to-date kitchen appliances and improving military dining facilities and working conditions for food handlers based on the recognition that improving the quality of soldiers’ meals is the foundation for fostering ‘combat-ready military,’” it said in a statement.