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Wing set to DINE base populous

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Several food-serving facilities at Misawa are moving toward providing healthier food choices to their customers with the Developing Improved Nutrition Environment project. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jamal D. Sutter)

Several food-serving facilities at Misawa Air Base, Japan, are moving toward providing healthier food choices to their customers with the Developing Improved Nutrition Environment project. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jamal D. Sutter)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- For some people, eating healthier may seem like a task that's easier said than done with so many microwavable meals, snacks and foods that are flat out bad for you.

With cooperation from key base agencies and leadership, the 35th Fighter Wing is set out to create a more supportive nutrition environment with the Developing Improved Nutrition Environment project.

The DINE project is being implemented by a team consisting of the Army and Air Force Exchange Services manager, Defense Commissary Agency manager, base leadership, fitness center director and school principals, said Capt. Jennifer Bradley, 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron health promotions flight commander. The team also contains representatives from the Airmen and Family Readiness flight, sustainment services flight and community support flight.

The team will assess the food options available on base and identify potential target areas for improving healthy eating practices, Captain Bradley said. Once the data is collected, the team will create a prioritized list of improvement areas and develop a DINE action plan, which will outline the steps necessary to create healthier alternatives in the target areas.

The initiative is based on a goal driven by the 35th FW Strategy Alignment and Deployment Map, which was developed by base leadership, said Master Sgt. Mark Maschhoff, 35th FW Air Force Smart Operations for the 21th Century process manager.

"One of the objectives is to foster fitness for life," Sergeant Maschhoff said. "People hear that, and they think physical fitness, which is a very big component of it. But other things lead into that. If you can increase the availability of healthy food choices, you lower the risk of heart disease and other medical complications."

Sergeant Maschhoff works directly with the DINE team to ensure they have the tools and resources to execute their plan.

"In the AFSO 21 office," he said, "we help people clearly define their problem, apply problem-solving tools and come up with workable, plausible countermeasures that will address their root causes."

The DINE project will not mandate any food-service facilities on base to make changes in menu or create an entire new menu of healthy foods, assured Captain Bradley. Customers may not even notice any changes in taste or quality. Examples of potential changes will be substituting ingredients that are high in sodium with ones low in sodium or adding more fiber and protein to a recipe.

In fact, the 35th Force Support Squadron has already begun making changes and giving customers healthier eating options, said Capt. Erin Hancock, 35th FSS sustainment services flight commander.

So far, the 35th FSS has added egg whites, wheat bread and whole wheat pasta to some of their menus, Captain Hancock said. Also, some of the squadron's facilities will soon begin to serve turkey sausage and bacon as an alternative to pork products. In addition, they will provide lighter salad dressings to customers as well as develop nutritional-fact guides on the food they serve.

Maintaining a balance between nutritional-eating behaviors and keeping the body physically fit is important to a person's wellbeing as a whole, Captain Bradley said.

"People understand the physical aspect," she said. "They just don't understand that nutrition has a part in their overall health. I just want to make sure there are healthier options for people to choose."