ABOARD USS KEARSARGE -- The days of a mess cook slinging hash onto a tray are over aboard the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). In an effort to improve efficiency and crew satisfaction, crewmembers now serve themselves.
Frowns from Sailors and Marines who received either too much or too little of a particular food have been replaced by smiling faces as every Sailor and Marine aboard Kearsarge now pick what they want.
The new program, appropriately called 'self-service feeding,' enables Sailors and Marines to pick out the foods that they would like to eat, the portion size and the manner in which the meal is presented on the plate. By all accounts, the change is quite an improvement.
"The advantage is that I'm able to get exactly what I want and have as much as I would like to have," said EM3 Mariusz Mazur.
"It's a whole lot better than the old system," said LCPL Jason Muldovan. "This way is much faster so the food is always warm, and you can get what you want, therefore avoiding a hold up in the line trying to calorie count."
A relatively new idea to the fleet, self-serve feeding is an innovative and growing concept in yet another move to improve quality of life for Sailors and Marines.
"The number one advantage is that the crew is happy," says MSC (SW/AW) Deborah Jackson, the visionary who brought this idea to the ship from a previous command. "I have received nothing but positive feedback from the crew and embarked Marines. With new uniforms for cooks, and new eating utensils, plates, trays and a matching color scheme throughout the mess decks, Kearsarge Sports Grill has a much homier feel."
Since implementing this idea when the Kearsarge departed Norfolk April 25, for a six-month deployment, self-service has also provided a less stressful operation for its cooks.
"We feed continuously throughout the day, and the self-serve lines have helped to speed things up for the 2,500 Sailors and Marines that come through for each meal."
"With self-serve, the lines are open all-day, and I can eat whenever I want, enabling me to accomplish more work throughout the day," said PC3 Armando Abeja.
"The new plates and trays present the meal with so much more elegance, that it is tempting sometimes to run through the line again. I also like the fact that you get to build your own meal the way you want it."
With so much positive feedback aboard Kearsarge, self-serve feeding seems to be a positive trend in the Navy's continuing mission to further improve shipboard life for its Sailors and Marines.