Michigan National Guard troops were reportedly fed undercooked meals, some with metal fragments inside
Michigan National Guard troops who are protecting the U.S. Capitol have been fed undercooked and underwhelming meals, according to reports from over the weekend.
These new complaints from soldiers come after similar reports dating back to last month.
The complaints from National Guard troops reached members of the Michigan delegation and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), whose office said she called Acting Secretary of the Army John E. Whitley about the problem on February 17 as soon as the first reports of the food were received, as The Detroit News explained.
The governor was assured the problem would be corrected, and guard officials last week told lawmakers the issue had been resolved, according to the publication. Another round of complaints cropped up over the weekend of poorly prepared and undercooked food again, Whitmer’s office said.
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ABC News affiliate WXYZ Detroit reported Monday about the complaints regarding the quality of the meals, with one staff sergeant on Sunday telling the station’s Brian Abel that “metal shaving” were found in meals.
“Yesterday for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw beef in them,” the unnamed staff sergeant said. “Just yesterday, […] soldiers had found metal shavings in their food.”
Following dozens of soldiers being put on sick call due to undercooked food, with some being sent to the hospital, the complaints climbed up the chain of command and changes were made to the boxes, WXYZ reported.
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“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 staff sergeant also said. “At 140, you cook that chicken, undercook it to 140, and now […] you’re telling us that it’s… 30-minute drive. But these meals are, and 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.”
On Monday, following the new round of meal complaints, WXYZ reported that soldiers are being given dry MREs meals for the next few days.
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The Michigan National Guard on Monday issued a statement regarding meal complaints and slammed the soldiers’ apparent conditions, saying, “The firsthand accounts and pictures of undercooked food being served clearly shows that what is being given to Michigan’s service members is unacceptable.”
“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 Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who has been visiting the soldiers every couple of days, according to The Detroit News. “Ultimately, it’s the National Guard that hired the contractor — not those of us on the Hill.”
The office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) similarly reported about soldiers’ complaints over the weekend of metal shavings being found and of at least 74 meals being tossed out and subsequently replaced by MREs, according to the publication.
There are also complaints, according to The Detroit News, of lunch arriving many hours late, a lack of options for vegetarians, and breakfasts consisting of a piece of fruit and a hard roll without any protein, a detail which WXYZ also reported. Vegetarians were instructed to remove the meat and to eat the sides served with the meals, the publication reports.
Following the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that resulted in five deaths, about 1,000 troops from the Michigan National Guard are assisting in providing security at the complex. Of the 5,200 guard soldiers and airmen helping civilian law enforcement at the Capitol, 20% originate from Michigan, according to The Detroit News.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.