Washington National Guard learns language of DLA food support

By Alex Siemiatkowski DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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The Washington Army National Guard is learning a new language: Subsistence.

When the Washington Army National Guard decided it needed a better way to provide food to guardsmen, it reached out to the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Subsistence team.

Overseeing their own food contracts became a cumbersome process, said Master Sgt. Darrell DeGroff, Washington National Guard food program manager.

But setting up support from the Subsistence supply chain has been a challenge. The number of guardsmen to feed fluctuates, depending on training events. That and the large number of delivery locations throughout the state makes it difficult for vendors to determine when, where and how often to make deliveries, said John Tolomeo, Subsistence customer operations supervisor.

It’s similar to learning a new language or culture, said Patricia Scott, chief of Subsistence garrison feeding. DeGroff and his team had to learn to navigate the system Subsistence uses to order food. And Subsistence had to learn to understand the complexity of their new customer’s needs.

A Subsistence team traveled to Washington in March to meet with DeGroff and participate in the Army National Guard’s annual Menu Board Meeting at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. DeGroff also took them on a tour around the state so they could better understand the various delivery locations.

Subsistence began setting up ordering sites for the Washington National Guard in November 2015. They now support eight dining facilities and individual units, and more sites have been identified for the future.

DeGroff said he has seen two major benefits in partnering with DLA so far.

“One, the fact that DLA oversees the bidding process of the food program contracts. That’s a big one,” said DeGroff. “The other one ... when I got to visit an audit they did on one of the prime vendors, and they went through all the different products and showed us how picky they were about meeting specifications.”

“Overall the (Subsistence) team shows me that they are very committed to finding a way to make it work,” said DeGroff.

Subsistence provides support to Army National Guard and Air National Guard units in 30 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Guam.