National Guard Protecting U.S. Capitol Served 'Raw, Moldy Food,' Some With Metal Shavings, Lawmakers Say
WASHINGTON (WJZ/CNN) -- Bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the chief of the National Guard Tuesday with complaints about the food being served to members of Michigan's National Guard while they were stationed at the U.S. Capitol.
In the letter, Michigan's congressional delegation outline how some of the guard members were served "raw and moldy" food or food with metal shavings, leading some of them to be hospitalized.
"Recently, there have been several reports regarding the poor quality of food that is being provided to these service members, the lawmakers wrote. "Michigan National Guard members stationed in our nation's capital have repeatedly and personally brought these concerns directly to our offices and to the leadership of the National Guard. These reports include meals being provided that are badly undercooked, raw, moldy, and even filled with metal shavings."
The 14 House members blamed the poor food on contractors hired during the federal response to secure the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riots.
"It is clear that these contracted meals are poorly prepared, oftentimes inedible, and highly inadequate to support our soldiers," they wrote. "It is completely unacceptable that our men and women serving in Washington D.C are being hospitalized due to the food they are being provided."
The lawmakers didn't say how many National Guard members were hospitalized.
"As Representatives of these service members, we request that either the current contract be voided and a new food provider be brought in or that the service members be provided with a per diem throughout their remaining time in Washington, D.C.," the lawmakers stated.
"Since the beginning of the mission on January 7, we've served about 26,000 personnel more than 1.2 million meals. And of that, in .01% we've discovered the appearance of undercooked meals," the National Guard spokesperson told CNN.
Of the 54 states and territories that deployed National Guard personnel to the capital, "Michigan is the only state that has filed a complaint [about the food] that I'm aware of," the spokesperson said, adding that all National Guard units knew they were not being provided a per diem beforehand.
The first complaint was of undercooked chicken a few weeks ago, according to the spokesperson, who said, "Ever since we got the complaint, we've been trying to increase our safety measures."
As for claims about members of the Michigan National Guard being hospitalized because of the food they were provided in DC, the spokesperson said, "Commanders have not reported any hospitalizations in the twice-a-day update briefings."
If guardsmen are not satisfied with the catered food brought in under contract from vendors, the spokesperson said, there are "tens of thousands of MREs at the ready for these soldiers."
MREs are "Meals, Ready to Eat," which are self-contained field rations with flameless heaters so that troops can have a hot meal.
"They never have to go in their pocket. If they go in their pocket, it's because they chose to," he said.
The National Guard increased the number of personnel who check food to include the temperature, as well as speaking to guardsmen about the quality of their food. There are daily reports on the options, the quality and the temperature of each meal, as well as the comments of a number of guardsmen, the spokesperson said. "They get a good cross-section of officers and enlisted, they ask them how was the food, what could they do better."
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