Pentagon nixes dining halls for troops' annual Thanksgiving meal
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The Pentagon has sent nearly 51,000 pounds of roasted turkey to U.S. troops stationed overseas, albeit with a twist on how they will be served in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Thanksgiving meals will be switched to “grab-and-go style takeout instead of large group gatherings in dining facilities” to cut down on the spread of COVID-19, the Defense Department (DOD) said in a statement.

“The holidays will look quite different this year for everyone,” Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support head Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence said in the statement. “I’m proud that our workforce is doing everything possible to make sure our warfighters get a proper holiday meal, especially since many of us will not be able to be with our family and friends. We want to make sure they get that taste of home no matter where they are in the world.”

The agency, which coordinates the holiday meal every year, delivered more than 250,000 pounds of traditional Thanksgiving food to service members stationed in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Korea, Japan, Qatar and Honduras, among other locations.

The breakdown includes 9,000 whole turkeys, 51,000 pounds of roasted turkeys, 74,000 pounds of beef, 21,000 pounds of ham, 67,000 pounds of shrimp, 16,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, 19,000 pounds of pies and cakes and 7,000 gallons of eggnog.

The switch from dining facility gatherings follows the Pentagon’s announcement that it will move to a higher health protection level on Nov. 26, cutting maximum occupancy in the building and increasing the number of temperature checks on workers entering the facility.

It also comes as the military is struggling to stem an increase of new coronavirus cases in its ranks.

The virus most recently has infected temporary Pentagon policy chief Brig Gen. Anthony Tata, and nearly 75,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed among members of the military. Tens of thousands more cases have been recorded among DOD family members, contractors and civilian personnel.

Last week a 52-year-old Hawaii National Guardsman died from the illness, marking the military’s 11th death from the coronavirus.