Prisoners Better Catered For Than Our Armed Forces?

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Many people may be surprised to hear that serving men and women of the Army, Navy and RAF have to pay as they eat.

As the proud mother of two serving soldiers I am surprised and disappointed that as a nation we do not value our brave Armed Forces better.  I have come to realise that most people in civvy street assume getting fed properly and regularly is part and parcel of being in the Armed Forces.  It isn't.  Whatever happened to 'an army marches on its' stomach'?

Prisoners in the UK get their meals for free.  Patients in NHS hospitals get meals for free.  All reception and infant school children in state schools in England get free school meals.

Currently, each basic meal our Armed Forces pays for starts at £2.35 as supplied by the private civilian contractor, Sodexo.  But this basic meal tends to be heavily carbohydrate based and lacking in protein.  The meal and the portion size 'doesn't touch the sides' therefore realistically most have to order more expensive meals to feel satisfied and that comes at a cost.  Many are paying well over £200 a  month from their very modest salaries to simply feed themselves.  It's not cheap and it's often not good enough quality food.  This impacts junior ranks most of all, who make up the majority of the Armed Services, on their quite meagre starting salaries of £14,931.

Troops and other service personnel have complained extensively through social media and the press about the quality of food and the pay as you dine pricing system implemented since the Ministry of Defence contracted out the provision around eight years ago.  Prior to that, Royal Logistic Corps chefs largely had the job of feeding our service men and women.  Surely it is better to have military chefs for military people?

Under the Queen's Regulations for the Army, a soldier must eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This is not optional, it is a regulation.  Fair enough, our service men and women do exceptionally demanding jobs both physically and mentally and it is imperative that they get the correct nutrition.  The current system is a hindrance to this regulation and indeed makes a mockery of it.  The reality is that many soldiers are not eating enough or properly as they cannot afford to feed themselves the 2,900 calories they are expected to consume a day from good quality and highly nutritous food, every day, in order to carry out their arduous training.

I petition that our brave Armed Forces are given good quality, nutritionally balanced and correctly portioned breakfast, lunch and dinner free for every day they serve their country. If it's okay for prisoners, it should be okay for our Armed Forces.



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