A STAGGERING 3.4m meals are served to soldiers in our dining facilities at Salisbury Plain and Aldershot garrisons each year – that equates to 9,500 meals every single day.

Feeding the Army is a complex operation. We’re responsible for 54 kitchens and 69 feeding locations, ranging from self-service ‘super’ diners for junior ranks, to more traditional Senior Officers’ Messes, where a professional Silver Service can be provided. Tim Fagan (Contract Director Defence) and his team from Sodexo consult closely with garrison operational teams - and the soldiers who use our facilities - to ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

As well as working hard to deliver quality, variety and value for money in the food we serve, we continue to offer career support through our garrison catering services, including job opportunities for hospitality and front-of-house staff. Our culinary teams comprise civilian, trainee and military chefs, working side-by-side in state-of-the-art kitchens that enable them to hone their skills and gain vital qualifications.

Recently, we took over a new junior ranks’ diner at Larkhill Garrison, just one of 130 buildings being delivered by Aspire Defence for the Army Basing Programme. It’s one of the biggest diners in defence: with a team of six professional chefs catering for five Gunner regiments, more than 600 soldiers can be served during one meal sitting. It also has retail and bar facilities on site - and is located close to two new single living accommodation ‘villages’ - offering a convenient ‘one-stop shop’, seven days a week.

Last month we were delighted to host the Minister for Defence People & Veterans, the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, during his visit to the Royal School of Artillery. Having sampled the menu and talked to soldiers over lunch, the Minister described the new diner as a ‘fantastic example’ of investment in the defence estate to benefit Service personnel.

We’re really proud to serve – and employ – the best.

By Mark Carr, managing director, Aspire Defence Services