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[Improvements to the meal service system for soldiers] Daily basic meal expenses for soldiers to be increased to 11,000 won next...

Improvements to the meal service system for soldiers

<subtitle> Increased basic meal expenses and expanded private consignment of barracks restaurants


The main consumers, a generation used to eating eco-friendly school meals

Difficult to meet their needs with the current budget


Increasing meal expenses

Likely to boost local economies and expand the foundation for ‘innovative businesses’ such as delivery and dining

Improvements to the meal service system for soldie

Improvements to the meal service system for soldie

‘Private consignment,’ a new attempt to improve the military meal service

Promoted mainly by education and training institutions.

10 pilot operations in the army, navy and air force for the second half of the year

Discussions to be held between related governmental ministries regarding the VAT exemption plan


To win a battle, one needs to have a strategy that is superior to the enemy’s. Soldiers must unite firmly with the will for victory in battle, armed with extraordinary weapons. In addition, all types of support must be provided to carry out and maintain any operation. Beyond this, it is also necessary to create favorable public opinion and secure justification. It's hard to say which of these is more important, but some things are written in stone: one is the ‘budget.’ The same holds true for efforts to improve military meal service. Even if a good plan is proposed and there are people to implement it, it is difficult to achieve the desired outcomes without a sufficient budget. That is why the Ministry of National Defense prioritizes ‘realization of meal service expenses’ to improve the military meal service. Previously, I considered the improvement of the military meal service system as a strategy, the adding of food handlers to realize such strategy, and the introduction of the latest culinary equipment which can be considered a superior weapon. Today, finally, I will introduce the budget part, ‘increasing the basic meal expenses,’ and ‘expanding private consignment for barracks restaurants as a new attempt to improve the military meal service.'


So, how much money is allocated, per meal for one soldier? According to the Ministry of National Defense, as of this year, the basic meal expense per soldier is KRW 2,930, or KRW 8,790 per day. This is only 80% of the amount allocated to high school students, which is KRW 3,625. It is also much less than the amounts allocated by the US and Japanese military, which are KRW 15,000 a day and more than KRW 10,000 a day, respectively.


From a practical perspective, an increase in the basic meal expense for soldiers must be introduced promptly. While the basic meal expense for soldiers this year has been increased by 3.5%, the unit price of the grains provided by the government for military meal service rose by 14.5%, while prices of agricultural, livestock, and marine products rosed by 10 to 16% from January to April alone. So even though the money allocated has been increased, once we take the rate of inflation into account, the meal expense this year has actually been reduced.


Soldiers, who are the main consumers of military meals, are of a generation that has become accustomed to eating free, eco-friendly school meals. It is hard to serve meals at the same level as is provided at schools with the current funding.


Recognizing this issue, the Ministry of National Defense has been actively promoting an increase in the basic meal expenses for soldiers. This means more than simply providing soldiers with better ingredients, but serves as a foundation for expanding innovative food service businesses, such as delivery and dining out, as well as a driving force for revitalizing local economies. Moreover, it is possible to introduce semi-processed agricultural products that have been washed, peeled, and cut, which could previously only be purchased to a limited extent because of their high unit prices, reducing the burden on food handlers.



Ministry of National Defense takes special measures to increase basic meal expenses to KRW 10,000



On the 1st, the Ministry of National Defense took special measures to increase the daily basic meal expenses to 10,000 won, an achievement reached after thorough consultation with the related ministries including the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Ministry of National Defense established and issued guidelines that ensure maximum autonomy in execution so that the increased meal expenses can be employed to enhance the satisfaction of soldiers and prepare meals that they prefer.


In addition, the Ministry of National Defense is pushing for a plan to increase the daily basic meal expense for soldiers to KRW 11,000 next year, which is KRW 500 higher than was originally planned (KRW 10,500). Last December, the Ministry of National Defense commissioned the Korean Dietetic Association to conduct research on the proper amount of military meal expenses. The results of the study showed that KRW 10,500 was appropriate given the social environment, foreign military cases, nutritional aspects, meal service conditions, etc.


But after two sessions, the experts decided to increase the funding to KRW 11,000 based on a comprehensive review of the nutritional and economic aspects and a series of meal service issues. The Ministry of National Defense concluded that at least this amount of money is needed to address the root causes of the meal service issues by providing sufficient and balanced nutrition.


Significantly, the Ministry of National Defense has set the basic meal expense for next year, considering the soldiers' preference for meat, the balanced distribution of nutrients through food such as vegetables and fruits, and the increase in produce prices, with the aim of ‘providing 3000 kcal per day’ considering the intensive physical activities being carried out, including military training.


Pilot Operation of ‘Private consignment of barracks restaurants’ at the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy



Private consignment of the barracks restaurants is a new but brave attempt to improve the military meal service. It is a plan that was established after a long period of deliberation, as in reality it is difficult to add food handlers due to the decrease in military service resources and the low rate of applications. The Ministry of National Defense is now planning to expand the private consignment of the barracks restaurants, beginning with a pilot project at the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.


Private consignment can be operated with the current meal expenses as there are many soldiers who use the barracks restaurants, and it is expected to be promoted with a focus on education and training institutions, which have fewer restrictions on the wartime meal support. First of all, the Ministry of National Defense is planning to pilot-operate private consignment for a total of 10 units including 4 army units, 2 navy units, 3 air force units, and 1 marine unit for the second half of this year.


In this process, the Ministry of National Defense will also come up with a plan to bridge the gap between privately consigned barracks restaurants and directly managed ones. Also, as costs for labor and initial facility investment are required for consignment, the Ministry plans to discuss the VAT exemption plan with the relevant ministries.


Lee Bok-gyun, a logistics director of the Ministry of National Defense, said, “Military meals are directly managed through applying the school meal system under the leadership of the unit commander, but for some units, such as education and training institutions, they will be operated through private consignment. We will make every effort to improve the meal service, while minimizing the problems that can arise in a dual system of direct management and private consignment.”


By Chae-Mu, Im < >

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