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How Does the U.S. Feed its Navy?

How Does the U.S. Feed its Navy?

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Feeding a hungry global fleet of active duty sailors is no easy feat, but the U.S. Navy is taking on the challenge. The entire fleet consists of navy ships, submarines, aircraft, and tens of thousands of men and women who are deployed all over the world. The navy, which operates on a $411 million dollar food budget per year, operates 290 general messes (food stations), and produces 88.2 million meals annually.

The Daily Meal recently sat down with Commander Danny King, the director of Navy Food Service, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and Jennifer Person Whippo, the nutrition program manager of NAVSUP, for an exclusive interview about how the navy feeds their fleet and how nutrition keeps them motivated and on top of their game during active duty.

All sailors get three square meals per day. “Breakfast will provide the body with fuel after fasting from sleep. Lunch and dinner meals provide a recharge of energy in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and fats,” Whippo told us. “Hydration throughout the day is also imperative and in the forms of water and milk, for calcium and vitamins D and A. High calorie sugar laden fluids are discouraged.”

Beyond the suggested meals, snacking is also important. Mess decks provide fruits 24 hours a day, and “grab and go bars” offer nuts, granola bars, and pretzels.

Each fleet follows a meal plan developed by Type Commanders (TYCOM), each offering a beverage, soup, entrée, starch, vegetable, dessert, bread bar, and salad bar. Comm. King noted that depending upon the type of vessel, sailors obviously have different options. One of the main carriers’ mess decks might offer a chicken bar and protein bar, but on a submarine, there will be fewer options available due to its size and capacity.

The menus are developed by TYCOM and compliance is required to approve the meal plans. If they so choose, the TYCOMs in charge of individual fleets can add garnishes and showcase the foods on a meal plate for a dash of culinary creativity, said Whippo.

There is a monthly menu advisory board that weighs in on the food choices and makes comments and amendments where they are needed to ensure the sailors are getting the highest quality food to ensure a healthy and active lifestyle while on duty, explained Commander King. "Nutrition overall contributes to readiness since a well-nourished sailor will have less absenteeism at work, be cognitively alert, and physically able to meet challenging demands.”

“Nutrition is a critical part of mental and physical readiness,” Whippo added. “Proper nutrition can be achieved by consuming a variety of foods that are in their most natural state. Processed foods are void of nutrients and filled with trans fats and sodium. Nutrition overall contributes to readiness since a well-nourished sailor will have less absenteeism at work, be cognitively alert, and physically able to meet challenging demands.”

As for catering to those with food allergies and intolerances, the Navy has to work with those on a case-by-case basis, noted Comm. King. “Every sailor needs to be worldwide deployable and go through a rigorous medical screening,” he said. “If they can’t be accommodated regarding food, they might be stationed stateside.” He added that every meal offers vegetarian options, and that they provide special meals on religious holidays.

Within the Navy itself is also an impressive number of talented chefs. Each year, the Navy hosts a Navy Installation Command Culinary Competition where nine Navy culinary teams compete from around the world. Prior to the competition, the teams undergo two days of American Culinary Federation training to prepare.

The teams presented to a panel of judges including Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West, Master Chief Culinary Specialist William Campbell, Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Chad Harris, and Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Brian Woyak. This year, the team from the Midwest Region took home the ultimate title.

This is How You Feed the Navy

QSR gets exclusive access aboard the USS Jefferson City, where efficiency and culinary innovation rule.

The military may not immediately come to mind as a go-to foodservice resource, but closer inspection suggests some eye-opening and revealing connections. QSR recently had the privilege of touring the galley of the USS Jefferson City, a Navy submarine home-ported in San Diego. This innovative foodservice operation, with its limited space and high volume, is a tightly run ship. Lest these words have lost their visual punch, a few minutes aboard this vessel will spiffy them right up.

The entry is down a ladder that drops 20 feet into the hull of bustling activity. Roughly 130 men are working aboard this 360-foot-long, 33-foot-wide ship, and each is on task. Some huddle over a workspace while many are on the go, in and out of doorways and around passages, standing tall to one side to let someone pass. The crew moves quickly and on a schedule they dutifully respect. A military submarine commands efficiency.

There are no exceptions, least of all the galley, which operates around the clock to stay on top of its game. A team of six feeds the entire crew. That’s four high-volume meals this team cranks out in 18 hours every day. And only two do the cooking, one during the day and one at night. Standing in the galley it’s clear why. About 10 feet by 14 feet, this small space (even by a quick serve’s standards), boasts nothing high tech or fancy save the pristine military shine on floor-to-ceiling stainless steel.

Two convection ovens side by side, a microwave oven, one deep fryer, twin cavernous soup pots, and an industrial-sized mixer are the only equipment. A tiny sink, sanitizer, cabinets, and drawers fill out any remaining space. Dog-eared recipe cards perched at eye level are in quick reach of the generous assortment of bulk spices.

It’s all about the basics here. Just try to squeeze in anything else.

Sure, space and time are limited, but service can’t be. In these close confines, there’s simply no room for compromise. Led by Lt. j.g Jason Thomas and culinary specialist chief (CSC) Brandon Ramos, the USS Jefferson City galley team doesn’t focus on limitations.

Whatever luxuries the galley lacks, this team makes up for in productivity and style. Their sights are on flavor and the morale of the crew. “It’s paramount the food be right every time,” Thomas says. “My team has to get it right. We’re only limited by provisions.”

On a sub, the amount of food stowed is capped by space. So provisions are limited, but only as limiting as the galley team allows. Buying in bulk not only means the Jefferson City can store more ingredients it also means most of its meals are prepared completely from scratch. In fact, this galley team bakes fresh bread every day.

A breakdown of common Navy terms for civilians

Deployment Encompasses all activities from origin or home station through destination, specifically including intracontinental U.S. travel.

Galley The kitchen of the submarine where all food, including meals for officers, is prepared. It is usually a 10 feet by 14 feet space with two convection ovens, a sink, and other basic equipment.

Home port The port where the ship originates for deployment.

Mess The dining area of the submarine comprised of tables and benches that seat up to 24 men at a time. When meals are not being served this space is used as a general-purpose meeting and lounge area for the crew.

Underway The submarine is no longer in port it is moving through the water.

“We’re notorious for that,” Ramos says with a smile. This is one of many ways they enhance their menu repertoire. The Navy supplies a variety of recipe cards, but for this crew, they’re purely guidelines. Their creative energy goes toward improving the flavor of an otherwise ordinary dish as they experiment, gauge results, and come back again and again to make it better. They especially love to “change it up,” as Ramos says, by adding a new spice or “beefing up” the barbecue sauce with one of at least eight hot sauces the galley stocks.

“Our guys want change constantly,” he says. It takes a lot of planning and each chef has developed his own signature spin.

“We’re always improving, we’re motivated by that,” says Ramos, who expects continued progress. “This is my artwork,” he says. “All the guys are like that.”

It’s visible in this team. There is complete buy-in, and the men thrive on it. Thomas and Ramos can’t say enough about their team and how good they are individually.

“This is the best group in 16 years,” Ramos says. It’s this selfless mindset that makes this group work so well together. The fact that every one of them is trained in every job no doubt keeps them grounded and on the same page, but it also contributes to the strength and cohesion of this galley.

Like most chefs, they do have their specialties (and their weaknesses). Ramos admits baking isn’t his forte, but he could do it as they all could. This team’s leaders are not so far removed that they don’t remember what it was like to be in a different place.

“I was them five years ago,” he says. Ramos and Thomas make it a point to relate to their guys, joking, telling stories, and most of all having fun at work. Thomas sums it up well when he says, “I want them working for me because they want to, not because they have to.”

Leading by example is part of what makes this a cohesive, smooth-running team. Ramos attended culinary school before he joined the Navy and even trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) as part of a culinary award he earned on another ship.

Here, the training is hands-on. Thomas and Ramos are side by side with their crew, showing them how it’s done and coaching them along. “It took a year’s training for this group to fully come around,” Ramos says, “and now they’re top-notch chefs.” This is a team that works as one, from the top right on down. This is the way it should be, Ramos says.

“The boss should be in there doing the job and getting the respect of the guys.” It’s that mutual respect that feeds the camaraderie these men share. They enjoy their job and take their responsibilities seriously, but are quick to tell you they are not serious on the job by any means. “We burn thousands of calories laughing,” Ramos says. It’s all in a day’s work in this galley.

Submarines are often under way, or at sea, for weeks if not months at a time, which calls for creative overtime in the kitchen. The ship is bursting with provisions when it’s first deployed, but they dwindle quickly, especially the fresh fare that lasts an all-too-brief 10 days. This is when the fun begins as the men dig deep for any and every new take and twist they can to give their crew variety and different flavors.

“Flavor and morale are the issue,” Thomas says. “If they’re happy, we’re happy.” They follow Navy guidelines for a three-week menu cycle so ingredients like fresh meat and poultry, starches, and vegetables rotate, but they add further variety by, say, breading the chicken one night and grilling it another. They also like to surprise the crew with something that’s not on the menu, like their oatmeal cookie pie and taco bowls.

“They love it,” Ramos says. “We do several very creative tactics to maintain happiness.” They crafted the mold for the taco bowls, made with flour tortillas, using a round cylinder plate with a handle they submerge in the fryer.

They are serious about getting the food right and their efforts don’t go unnoticed. The comment board, which hangs prominently just within the entry to the crew mess hall, displays comment cards where crew members and galley visitors post praises for the galley’s culinary excellence. The multitude of cards vying for space is how word gets outside the sub to attract the frequent attention this galley has come to expect.

It has been nominated as one of the best submarine galleys in the Navy and has competed against and placed in the top four among more than 100 subs. It also won a Blue E (for excellence) award in its squadron of six submarines. This recognition is hugely significant for the USS Jefferson City, for its galley team, and for each team member. It’s a big accomplishment that builds camaraderie and stokes motivation.

Foodservice professionals of all sorts understand that food does more than satisfy hunger, and they strive to maximize those pulse points for their customers. A pleasant and comfortable atmosphere and good company, as well as flavorful food, enhance the experience of a meal. This is even more pronounced for a submarine crew whose work, which is among the most difficult in the Navy, takes them away from home and family for long periods of time.

Meals represent a break, a time to socialize and laugh, and a time to treat the senses to a meal made from scratch that reminds them of home. It’s no surprise that their meals are often the highlight of the day. Crew members stop Ramos all the time to tell him how much they look forward to what’s on the menu.

The galley team strives to make the experience live up to expectations on all levels. The crew mess is close quarters but lively and pleasant with bright orange picnic-style tables and padded benches to seat 24 (meals are served in shifts), wall décor, a food line, salad bar, coffee station, and ice cream station. Tables are spruced up with cheery vinyl cloths and caddies stocked with sauces and condiments. It’s pleasant, it’s clean, and it’s perhaps the place they most look forward to in their day.

Precise planning and organization are critical before the Jefferson City goes to sea. A six-month deployment demands an initial food load out of about $150,000, plus five replenishments from ports along the way at about $110,000. That first load-out process when the food is stowed securely or tied down for sea takes three weeks of full-time efforts.

“We want to maximize that time and space. We depend on it,” Thomas says.

The ship’s walk-in freezer and adjacent walk-in chill box, which can be converted to a freezer at the beginning of a deployment, are packed with no inch to spare. Dry storage with rows of packaged goods stacked tightly from floor to ceiling is heavily utilized as well.

The food on the table is always center stage and this team doesn’t disappoint. Ramos works by the mantra he rattles off militaristically: “Food is about appearance, taste, texture, and color. You eat with your eyes.”

He makes sure every dish is garnished and presents well. This team even pays attention to color in the planning stage of each menu with the end result in mind.

“We go beyond the norm,” Ramos says. The orange chicken, for example, is made from scratch, which they’re not supposed to do, so the glaze has that appealing shimmer. It’s then garnished with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and fresh green onions.

Attention to this kind of detail is an especially tall order when cooking for a crew of 130 who eat “double of everything,” Ramos says. “That’s 200 portions for 100 people.”

It simply cannot be done without astute attention to planning and organization. “We pride ourselves on being clean and organized,” Ramos says.

“We keep it up on a day-to-day basis. These guys are accountable. They know if they don’t make the effort, the others suffer. We’ve never run short, we’ve never had to portion control. We don’t waste either. They do a phenomenal job.”

Operating consistently at such high efficiency and productivity comes down to this galley team’s attention to every detail involved in fueling the USS Jefferson City.

This group of six takes foodservice to its fundamentals and proves it can be successful in conditions other kitchens would deem inadequate. Their collective drive to look ahead and always improve shatters basic expectations.

General Diet Guidelines

The U.S. Navy, in conjunction with the Athlete's Performance Institute, developed the "Navy Operational Fitness & Fueling Series," or NOFFS, to improve servicemen's performance through proper nutrition and training. NOFFS promotes limiting processed foods and increasing the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In addition, the 2007 publication of "The U.S. Navy SEAL Guide to Fitness and Nutrition," edited by Patricia A. Deuster, et al., recommends that the Navy SEAL eat a diet composed of 60 to 65 percent carbohydrates, with fat accounting for less than 30 percent of the total calories and protein contributing the remaining nourishment. The high carbohydrate and protein content of the diet is necessary to fuel the Navy SEAL's intense activities and to maintain and rebuild his muscle tissue. Alterations to these general guidelines can be made to meet the Navy SEAL's specific training and combat needs.

What Does The U.S. Army Do?

Since its birth on June 14, 1775 – more than a year before the Declaration of Independence – the U.S. Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of our Nation.

It is a key member of a joint defense team, strategically dominant across the full spectrum of operations. The Army provides the Joint Force with the campaign-quality combat, combat support, and combat service support capabilities necessary to conduct sustained land warfare this is our unique contribution to the Joint Team and it will be maintained.

The Army must always be ready to defend the United States and its territories support national policies and objectives and defeat adversaries responsible for aggression that endangers the peace and security of the United States and our allies.

To do this, the Army must continue to attract, train, motivate and retain the most competent and dedicated people in the Nation.

Over the course of its history the U.S. Army has fluctuated in size and function but has always maintained its status as an important institution of American society. Serving in the Army has been seen by many Americans over time as a respected career, and Soldiers are highly regarded for their sense of duty and the sacrifices they have made for their country.

Of the nation’s 43 presidents, 30 served in the armed forces. Of those, 17 served in the Regular Army and six in the Army National Guard or militia. Three men who attained the highest rank of general in leading wartime field armies became president: George Washington (War of Independence), Ulysses S. Grant (Civil War) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (World War II).

The institutional Army has evolved around the Army’s primary mission of providing forces with a wide range of landpower capabilities that enable combatant commanders to dominate and sustain land warfare across the spectrum of operations.

The Army therefore must recruit, organize, train, equip, supply, sustain, mobilize and demobilize those forces as well as construct, maintain and repair facilities. To do all of that requires the right people and tools and the proper mix of intellectual and technological strength.

America’s Army is regarded by friend and foe as the world’s best Army. Its values, ethos, history of service and determination to succeed ensure that our Army is trained and ready for today and the future. The U.S. Army is a proud member of the Joint Force expertly serving our Nation and its citizens as we continuously strive toward new goals and improved performance.

Army soldiers can serve in several different branches of the Army, including Active Duty and Army Reserve. On Active Duty, soldiers are full-time, and live on a base either in the U.S. or a foreign country. Active duty soldiers earn a full-time salary, as well as health and retirement benefits. In the Army Reserve, soldiers are part- time, and earn part-time salary, also with health and retirement benefits. Reserve soldiers are able to choose where they live, but are required to train and report for duty only one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

America’s Army has three distinct components that work together: the Active Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

How Does the U.S. Feed its Navy? - Recipes

By SCOTT WYLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 18, 2018

ABOARD THE USS HARRY S. TRUMAN — An aircraft carrier galley buzzing with activity looks like an oversized restaurant kitchen.

Personnel in paper hats and uniforms slice meat, stick gloved hands into gooey concoctions and tend sizzling grills. They scurry past giant mixers and pull freshly baked food from ovens.

The difference is that these cooks — known as culinary specialists — must feed about 5,500 people on the USS Harry S. Truman while it’s in the eastern Mediterranean launching sorties against the Islamic State.

Ensuring crews are well fed in a combat operation is important to maintain morale and energy, as sailors work longer hours with fewer breaks.

Cooking for a floating city adds up to about 17,300 meals a day. Even with 114 sailors pitching in, that seems like culinary magic.

But those who oversee this mammoth job say organization, multitasking and teamwork are key.

“Deployment forces you to be a unit,” said Chief Petty Officer Naomi Goodwyn, who’s in charge of preparing officers’ meals. “We rely heavily on each other.”

In a day, the ship’s crews can go through 1,600 pounds of chicken, 160 gallons of milk, 30 cases of cereal and 350 pounds of lettuce, said Goodwyn.

Cooking at the homeport is much less intensive because sailors have other places they can eat, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandi Royal, who makes meals for E-6s and below.

“On deployment there’s nowhere else to go, so it’s mass production we’ve got to adjust to,” Royal said.

Everything is made in bulk, she said. Cooks must constantly prep food, do several different jobs and train to take on new tasks, she said, adding that versatility is essential.

The cooks’ culinary experience before joining the Navy can vary significantly, Goodwyn said. “Everything from chefs to people who never boiled water before,” she said.

The hardest task is getting junior staffers to the desired skill level as they deal with a more intense pace and workload while deployed, she said.

Keeping the carrier’s seven galleys adequately stocked is vital. A supply ship delivers 400,000 to 1 million pounds of food every seven to 10 days.

Sometimes regional food is included in the deliveries to add variety, such as feta cheese from Greece, Royal said.

The Navy sets menus for 21 days. They include specials aimed at boosting morale, such as Taco Tuesday and Mongolian Grill, which Royal said is similar to food served at P.F. Chang’s.

Sailors who have a birthday while at sea are treated to a special meal that calendar month, which includes a table cloth, wine glasses, nice music and a main course of prime rib or lobster, Goodwyn said.

The cooks strive to make the high volume of food they prepare enjoyable because the ship’s morale is closely tied to what sailors eat, Goodwyn said.

These recipes are not a learned skill, require no experience or engrams, nor do survivor stats affect the outcome. Any survivor can cook any of these recipes at any time with nothing more than the cooker of choice, and the required ingredients. The ingame recipe item is not required, it is only an ingame means of providing a list of the ingredients for some of these recipes. That is, not all of these recipes have an associated ingame recipe item: for example, Sweet Vegetable Cake.

Multiple recipes can cook concurrently, however be aware that some combinations of ingredients for multiple recipes may produce other unwanted dishes, as there are limited recipe ingredients creating considerable overlap in recipes. This feature is of the most use when mass cooking kibble by placing all the required kibble ingredients into a cooker at once, it is possible to cook all the kibble types at the same time, without producing unwanted dishes.

All standard recipes require water. Water can be provided to the Industrial Cooker through pipes, or placed by hand into either cooker using Water Flasks and so on. For more information see the cooker item links, and the Cooking page.

Why does the U.S. Postal Service take photos of your mail? Curious Texas investigates

12:02 PM on May 10, 2019 CDT

Bill Thompson of Dallas read about a U.S. Postal Service feature that sends users a morning email with scanned previews of the letter-size mail that will be delivered later that day.

“It’s kind of a nice service to have, because if you don’t get something you can look at the photos to see if it was mailed,” he said. “But it seems like an unnecessary thing. It must cost a fortune if they’re doing it for every piece of mail.”

That’s why Thomson asked Curious Texas: Why did the Postal Service start this service, and how much does it cost to keep it afloat?

His question was shared with Curious Texas, an ongoing project from The Dallas Morning News that invites readers to join in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists are trained to track down answers.

You can send us your Curious Texas questions by texting “DMN” to 214-817-3868. Follow the prompts and introduce yourself to us, share your story or questions, and we’ll text you with information as we report the story.

Albert Ruiz, the Texas spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said via email Informed Delivery started as a pilot project in 2014, but it expanded to most areas of the U.S. three years later. It currently has more than 16.4 million registered users, he said.

Users receive Informed Delivery emails once, typically around 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Emails are only sent when a user has mail. They are not sent on Sundays or federal holidays.

So how does the Postal Service make money out of this service? By promoting its products with digital advertising.

“In today’s digital age, Informed Delivery gives us a digital presence which makes it easier to sell our direct mail products,” Ruiz said. “We increase our revenue by having additional mail flow through the mail stream.”

The Postal Service scans all letter-sized mail as part of the sorting process, so there is no additional cost for this service. The scanned images are of external markings on pieces of mail, which show the exterior address side of letter-size mail.

However, email notification for packages do not include images. Those emails only include the delivery status of the package.

When the program rolled out nationwide in 2017, it only provided images of letter-sized mail to users. Larger mailings, like catalogs and magazines, were not included in the Informed Delivery emails because they did not get sorted by machine, The News reported at the time.

The Informed Delivery emails continue to include images of letter-size mail, but it has added some package details, Ruiz said.

“This shows the delivery status of incoming packages that have been scanned into our system and when they’re expected to arrive,” he said. “At this time, it does not include magazines, catalogs or large envelopes.”

But are these images shared with any other government agencies?

He said the Postal Service adheres to the privacy requirements of the Privacy Act, which establishes standards and safeguards for the collection, maintenance and dissemination of personal information collected by federal agencies.

There are only 12 exceptions where information can be disclosed under this federal act, which includes a court order, a request under the Freedom of Information Act or a written request by another domestic government agency during a civil or criminal investigation.

Ruiz did not disclose how long the Postal Service keeps the images of their users’ mail, but he said the government agency “takes the privacy of customers’ mail very seriously and takes measures to ensure that all personal information is protected.”

“Because Informed Delivery gives you increased visibility into both mail and packages being delivered to your address, USPS follows industry best practices to verify your identity, including the use of a mail-based verification letter,” he said.

Does the U.S. have the right to force-feed Guantanamo hunger strikers?

The U.S. has sent Navy nurses and medics to Guantanamo Bay to help keep terror-war suspects alive as they refuse food to protest conditions at the isolated detention center, as well as the legal limbo of its inmates. One hundred of the 166 inmates have reportedly joined the strike, and 23 are being forcibly nourished with liquid transmitted through a tube. President Obama this week said he was renewing a push to close the controversial prison — a 2008 campaign promise he failed to fulfill due to congressional opposition — but he defended the policy of forcibly feeding hunger strikers. "I don't want these individuals to die," he said.

But critics — from the United Nations to the American Civil Liberties Union — say that restraining unwilling prisoners and forcing tubes up their noses amounts to torture. One prisoner who says he underwent the procedure — a Yemeni national named Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel — said in a New York Times op-ed that it was cruel punishment that made him gag, and feel like he was going to vomit. "I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way," he said. That, according to the U.N.'s main human rights office, makes it unacceptable. "If it's perceived as torture or inhuman treatment — and it's the case, it's painful — then it is prohibited by international law," says Rupert Coville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

Some doctors' groups agree, saying that any patient of sound mind has every right to refuse treatment. Others counter that when a human life is at stake, the moral case isn't that simple. The ethical guidelines of the free world sometimes must be modified to suit the reality inside prisons, says Steven S. Spencer, former medical director of the New Mexico Corrections Department, in The New York Times. "The hunger-striking prisoner may be willing to die in pursuit of his goal. But the stress of incarceration may distort reasonable thinking." The hope is that by showing the hunger striker you're not going to let him die you can get him to snap out of it and resume normal eating, says Spencer:

Incarceration creates not only a loss of freedom of action, but of decision-making. When a person is incarcerated his health care and life are now the responsibility of the prison or jail staff. Institutional policies are directed at preventing self-destructive behavior as well as preventing violence to others.

Despite concerns for patient autonomy, to withhold treatment, or to fail to intervene with forced feeding, to my mind would violate the norms of medical ethics. [New York Times]

The only clear thing about this debate is that there are no winners. "The procedure is, in a word, barbaric," says Kent Sepkowitz at The Daily Beast. Not only is it nearly intolerable to have your head and body strapped down while a tube is pushed through your nose, but being forced to lie on a gurney while doctors willfully violate your wishes must be a "deeper and surely much more brutalizing pain." Still, it "is facile to suggest that refusal to place the feeding tube, as suggested by groups including the [American Medical Association] and the American Civil Liberties Union (of which I am a member), is the single conscionable approach," argues Sepkowitz.

Just as the patient is an individual with rights that must be respected, so too is the doctor a human being with a personal moral code. I actually don't know what I would do if I were one of the 40 medics dispatched to Guantánamo. But I do know I would not read a guideline or listen to the screeching admonishments from across the political spectrum. Perhaps the only lesson from the entire unhappy debacle is this: when a doctor is placed into a fraught situation as the agent of a political action, everyone loses. [Daily Beast]

Factchecking @InjusticeFacts

While the U.S. government does spend a lot of money on military recruitment advertising, it falls far short of the figure cited in this tweet.

According to the most recent information, the United States spends only $1 billion per year on military marketing, far less than the $18 billion figure presented by InjusticeFacts.

The figure comes from testimony from Jason E. Klein, the president and CEO of the newspaper national network, published in October 2011.

“The U.S. government spends roughly $1 billion per year on print, broadcast and digital media advertising,” he said.

The US military spends 90 percent of its advertising budget on national media and only 10 percent on local media, Klein said. The marketing aims to recruit new personnel for careers in the military, not specifically to engender support for the military. (However, the marketing could have the effect of creating support for the armed forces.)

The number spent on military marketing has risen steadily throughout the 2000s.

James N. Dertouzos researched The Cost-Effectiveness of Military Advertising, and found that the U.S. military spent about $600 million in 2007.

“The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps together spent more than $600 million on recruiting advertising in 2007, a 150 percent increase over that spent in 1999,” James N. Dertouzos wrote.

In addition, the word “propaganda” is subjective. While some may agree with this term, others would object to labeling any marketing or persuasive messaging as “propaganda.”

Our verdict

Injustice Facts said, “The US military spends $18 billion a year on advertising,” based on no official source to support their claim.

Who Does U.S. Food Aid Benefit?

Critics charge that current U.S. food aid policies are inefficient and possibly harmful.

Last month, in a move that shocked observers, CARE, one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations, rejected $ 45 million in U.S. food aid, shining a spotlight on a practice the group says may hurt starving populations more than help them.

Complaining that U.S. food aid policy is inefficient, unsustainable and perhaps even detrimental to combating food insecurity, CARE belives ​ “ enough is enough,” according to Bob Bell, director for CARE’s Food Resource Coordination Team. The decision comes at a time when other humanitarian and food advocacy organizations are calling on members of Congress to rewrite food aid policy that puts starving populations first when they authorize this month’s 2007 Farm Bill.

The United States is the world’s largest provider of international food aid, supplying more than half of all food aid designated to alleviate hunger, about four million metric tons of food per year. As currently implemented, U.S. food aid lines the pockets of American agribusiness and the shipping industry. Under existing rules, at least 75 percent of food aid has to be grown and packaged in the United States, and shipped using U.S. flag-bearing vessels. Unlike most countries that donate food, the United States sells a portion of its food aid, either by selling it to recipient governments, or allowing it to be monetized, a process where food aid is sold to generate cash for development projects. And while most donor countries provide cash as food aid, the United States insists on giving in-kind donations.

Back in 2002 , Richard Lee, a spokesman for the United Nation’s World Food Programme, told Greenpeace that the best way to confront famine is through cash donations, rather than food. ​ “ We prefer cash donations as they offer us greater flexibility — with cash donations we can purchase locally, enjoy greater flexibility and also speed things up,” Lee told Greenpeace. ​ “ We can get more for the money if we have cash. We can do the job faster as cash lets us buy the right food we need at the right time.”

The small-farmer advocacy organization Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) says U.S. food aid policy is fraught with problems. Sophia Murphy, senior advisor for IATP, says that while ​ “ all food aid is imperfect,” U.S. food aid is ​ “ more hamstrung than most [because of] a series of restrictions that serve U.S. domestic interests and not the people in whose name the programs are funded.”

Because most of the food aid must originate from the United States, it can take months to reach populations in crisis, sometimes too late, or as Murphy warns, at a time that can ​ “ clash with a local harvest instead of bridging a gap between harvests.” The ties to U.S. shipping companies also increase the costs of food aid. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that rising transportation and business costs have reduced food aid deliveries by almost half. For one food aid program, the GAO noted that shipping costs ate up 65 percent of total expenditures.

While the lack of propitious timing can undermine local economies, so too does monetization. Under this practice, NGOs stepping in to feed starving populations sell U.S.-subsidized food aid, often at prices under the cost of production, which swipes away any local competition. ​ “ Unless very carefully managed, [the sold food] then brings down prices in local markets for the local farmers, depressing production when you want to encourage it,” Murphy says.

Yifat Susskind, communications director of the human rights group Madre, believes this practice is extremely harmful. ​ “ The result, on a very large scale, has been bankruptcies, economic dislocation and physical displacement of literally millions of farmers throughout the world,” she says.

Susskind says this harm is ​ “ in very sharp contrast to what would happen if food was purchased from farmers who were very near or in the place where food aid was needed.”

Madre, IATP and other organizations are advocating for food aid to come from local producers or from locations closest to the population in crisis.

Furthermore, Susskind adds, dumping subsidized food is unfair because, “[Governments of most countries] have been forbidden through trade agreements put in place by other rich governments from legislating the same subsidies that are available to large-scale farmers [in the United States].” These same free trade agreements are often at play even as populations wither from hunger.

“ We tend to think of food aid as humanitarian assistance, but food aid is structured to meet the broader foreign policy objectives of the U.S.,” she says. ​ “ One of the things that happens is that food aid as humanitarian assistance works at cross-purposes with the larger economic trends so that the framework of neoliberal policies and trade rules as we know them now forces countries to stop growing food for consumption and to switch over to growing cash crops for exports.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the agencies responsible for implementing food aid, did not return interview requests. But the USAID website echoes Susskind’s assertions that food aid policy is designed to further U.S. interests. A 2006 paper published by USAID said that U.S. foreign aid ​ “ will seek to use bilateral foreign assistance to build toward a safer and more secure, democratic, and prosperous world to enhance our own national security.”

Ironically, U.S. food aid policy may even be creating starving customers through the environmental costs of the program. The policy props up industrial agriculture and factory farms, which are a huge source of pollution that contributes to climate change. And, as Susskind notes, the first effects of climate change are ​ “ happening in the places where people have the least resources to adapt. Those are the same countries that become candidates for food aid.”

As if environmental instability did not pack a big enough punch, U.S. food aid policy is toying with people’s physical health by including genetically-modified food in its donations. The World Food Programme announced in 2002 that it had secretly been delivering GM food from the United States to countries in need for seven years.

As U.S. corporations rake in money off starving populations, the NGOs serving these populations also benefit under U.S. policy. The money made selling U.S. food aid is used as income for NGOs.

“ There’s a very clear conflict-of-interest embedded in the policy,” Susskind says.

By turning down the $ 45 million in U.S. food aid, CARE drained its own pockets. But Bell says that while the organization has benefited from monetization, ​ “ in terms of our own program principles, we want to try and use food aid in the most effective ways.”

After CARE’s announcement, the Alliance for Food Aid – a coalition of NGOs including World Vision, Feed the Children, and the American Red Cross – came to the defense of monetization. Ellen Levinson, executive director of the Alliance, said in a press release, ​ “ While one organization may decide not to conduct food aid programs, there are many other organizations that remain committed to using food aid as an important tool for combating hunger.”

The Alliance did not return interview requests.

According to Murphy, many NGOs defend the system ​ “ because it provides a lot of money for development that would not likely be replaced were the programs to be reformed no one expects Congress to authorize the cash equivalent of the food currently donated as food aid. Although food aid as currently used is very inefficient, a lot of development projects now depend on the money generated by food aid to function.”

Bell says that while CARE understands NGOs’ dilemmas, given the long list of problems associated with food aid, ​ “ one has to ask themselves, can’t we do this differently?”

For Bell and other organizations, that would mean untying food aid from in-country restrictions that require food to be sourced in the United States and ending monetization and moving to a cash-based system of donations.

In March, as part of its Farm Bill proposal, the Bush administration recommended using 25 percent of the food aid budget for local and regional purchases of food, rather than U.S.-originating food. Although the House of Representatives dropped this condition from its version of the Food Bill, groups are still lobbying Congress to enact it when they authorize the legislation this month. In 2005 , at the behest of agribusiness, shipping companies and NGOs, Congress rejected this same proposal.

Murphy says the priority needs to be ​ “ longer-term planning to rebuild food security in the afflicted regions.”

In the meantime, Madre is drawing attention to what Susskind calls a ​ “ corrupt and damaging” food aid policy.

“ It’s criminal really that bureaucracy and people’s profit motives are getting in the way of feeding the hungry,” Susskind says.