As DFACs close at Fort Carson, empty food kiosks leave soldiers hungry

by Tommy Grant

Over the past weekend, soldiers who use meal cards at Fort Carson, Colorado, had to seek alternative dining options after food kiosks were inadequately stocked to meet demand.

The installation, which moved in February to officially shut down DFAC service on weekends due to lack of use, opted to use newly established kiosks to serve as the sole dining option on Saturdays and Sundays.

Kiosk options, which some soldiers likened to gas station food, include microwaveable meals, cut fruit, and pre-made salads and sandwiches. Each week, the installation puts in an order for the food, which is sourced from the local commissary and delivered on Friday.

Leaders from the installation “acknowledge there was a food shortage at the kiosks over the weekend, and sincerely apologize to the soldiers who were impacted,” Lt. Col. Joey Payton, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson spokesperson, told Army Times in a statement.

Payton added that the decision to close DFACs on the weekend was the result of staff rarely serving more than 200 meals over that span, while still being required to work full time.

Despite the kiosks now being the sole option for meal card holders on weekends — aside from on-post fast food options — base officials were still surprised by how many soldiers required the food service.

“We were caught off guard with the amount of soldiers that are choosing to use the kiosk,” Payton said.

An unnamed source told the r/Army Reddit, however, that those numbers may have been incorrectly based on a period when a large segment of the division was deployed.

“Since the first week of kiosk operations, we have seen an increase in kiosk usage each weekend and ultimately served approximately 1,850 meals this past weekend,” Payton said.

As a result, kiosks were extremely understocked this weekend.

Photos submitted to r/Army and several Fort Carson Instagram pages show refrigerator shelves that were reportedly emptied on Friday afternoon within 30 minutes to an hour of being stocked. Other images feature leftover items such as Yoplait yogurt, Slim Jims, string cheese or soft drinks, but no meals.

The r/Army moderator, an Army veteran who goes by the moniker Kinmuan, noted that this is not just a food problem but a morale issue.

“If your DFAC utilization is ‘low’, and soldiers are present on base, your DFAC is bad,” he told Army Times. “They should be working to improve the DFAC. Instead, they took a substandard DFAC that’s underperforming and got rid of it.”

He added that the kiosks present other problems because the barracks don’t always offer an environment for cooking or sitting for a meal. And limiting opportunities for soldiers who use meal cards defeats their purpose.

For now, Fort Carson intends to continue improving the kiosk process — rather than pursue a return to any weekend DFAC schedule — by adding more deliveries throughout the weekend if stock is low.

As for those who paid out of pocket over the weekend, Payton noted there is an indemnity process.

“We strongly encourage soldiers who were impacted to submit a missed meal voucher with their units so that they may be reimbursed,” he said.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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