Feed­ing an army

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS -

It takes three meals a day and 18 months of plan­ning to feed an army. “We work very hard to kind of pre-plan our stuff,” said Tim McCagherty, the act­ing op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of the Po­lar Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf Pro­ject at the Arc­tic Train­ing Cen­tre in Res­o­lute, Nu., where al­most 200 Cana­dian and Amer­i­can re­servists spent a week con­duct­ing a train­ing mis­sion, Ex­er­cise Arc­tic Ram. McCagherty and his staff started order­ing sup­plies for the ex­er­cise in Jan­uary 2015. They ar­rived from Yel­lowknife at the ATC in Septem­ber. But things don’t al­ways go ac­cord­ing to plan. In the harsh high arc­tic desert, the small­est winds can cause vis­i­bil­ity prob­lems, de­lay­ing or even can­celling flights, some­thing that hap­pened mul­ti­ple times dur­ing the ex­er­cise. Christo­pher Slaugh­ter, the ATC’s kitchen su­per­vi­sor and cook, said “peo­ple not leav­ing when they’re ex­pected to leave” is the big­gest chal­lenge he faces in the arc­tic. “We’re hav­ing to ad­just out meal plans daily,” he said – a dif­fi­cult task when break­fast, lunch and din­ner menus are out­lined a year in ad­vance and it takes four cooks five or six hours to pre­pare each meal – the same amount of no­tice the kitchen nor­mally gets when flights are de­layed. “I know they’ve been stuck for a while, so I’ve been ad­just­ing to meals that we can pre­pare in three or four hours,” he said. But ex­tended stays don’t just mean cut­ting down on prepa­ra­tion time. Mid­way through the week, some re­servists no­ticed the kitchen’s open fridges – nor­mally full of fresh fruit, cold cuts, milk, juice boxes and desserts – were slowly de­pleted, and the multi-course buf­fet-style meals in­cluded less sal­ads and chicken and more fish sticks and hot dogs. “With this many peo­ple, there are some foods we just can’t con­tin­u­ally run,” Slaugh­ter said, not­ing fresh milk was the first thing to go. “It’s some­thing we run out of. We can’t get enough of it. “We have a lot of frozen foods. It’s just the fresh ones that ba­si­cally get cut out. We can’t sus­tain that for too long. Not with this num­ber.” Still, as many of the re­serves jokes, lim­ited hot meals still beat army ra­tions.

Danielle Doiron near Res­o­lute, Nu­navut.

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