A quick turn around following complaints by Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR)soldiers embodied to assist in various areas during the Shelter in Place order sent to Bermuda Real this weekend.
The letter, regarding the ‘Feeding of the Soldiers’ was sent to the Minister of National Security, Wayne Caines “on behalf of the entire RBR”, which blasted working “conditions” and the way the RBR “is treating their soldiers”.
But the RBR Quartermaster says the letter “is not 100 percent accurate”.
The letter states: “We are working a minimum of eight (8) hour shifts and at times, double shifts.
“We have been fed pastries for breakfast everyday since deployment.
“For dinner we have been served sub par, undercooked meats, overcooked meals that are not substantial for working men and women.
“There are dietary preferences that have been completely ignored and so those soldiers do not eat at all unless they forage for
“We have been sent out into the public, risking our lives to not even be provided with proper boxed lunches and sometimes there is no lunch at all. Water that has been provided has been unfiltered tap water and has debris oating in it. We have been expected to now purchase food from the very few open places during our lunch break.
It has been through the generosity of some of the appreciative yet sympathic public that we even eat and have clean water while on duty.
Let’s not mention when we come back in from the late shift, the kitchen is closed.
“We have been threatened to be charged with Breach of Command if we are not back to our stations by the assigned time, while foraging for food, while also witnessing the chefs eating hot meals themselves.
“Some of us have resorted to purchasing and cooking for the entire camp just to ensure that we get at least one decent meal.
“This is unethical.
“This is also unacceptable that we, the soldiers are expected to work, maintain order, operate off little sleep, risk our lives and at times public prosecution and still function without adequate nutrition. And without adaquate nutrition, any medical physician will attest to the decline in productivity and being susceptible to illness.
“Now is not the time to risk the soldiers’ health and safety. This needs to be fixed NOW.
“It has already been brought to the attention of the kitchen staff, the Quarter Master, the Officer Commanding and yourself the Minister of National Defense, with no improvement in sight.
“Who should we complain to next – the Governor, our family and friends and inevitably the media?
“All we are asking for is a variety of three (3) nutritional meals that are substantial to keep working soldiers healthy, considering dietary restrictions (vegetarians & diabetics).
“We are here doing the work of the government, at least the government can do is feed us decently.
“I implore you, Minister Caines to have this issue rectified, immediately.”
Signed: A Concerned Soldier – On behalf of the entire RBR.
When contacted by Bermuda Real on Saturday (April 25), Major Kenneth Wainwright, the Quartermaster of the RBR, said that
commanders were aware of some complaints about food.
“These are unprecedented circumstances and we have had supply chain problems with availability and delivery of some items, none of which are under the control of the RBR.”
Maj Wainwright explained that some regular menu items in the dining hall, like the salad bar, had also been axed because of strict rules imposed on food handling and the use of social distancing designed to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.
“We can’t even do toast and bagels for the same reason,” he said.
Maj Wainwright added that a survey on food was carried out on Friday (April 24) and attracted 86 responses from the 200 soldiers embodied at Warwick Camp and several forward operating bases around the island.
Maj. Wainwright said: “Morale and top performance in this crisis is very important and the food is a crucial element of that. It is not in the interests of the RBR, our soldiers or the public to have any discontent.
“We have done several evaluations and feedback surveys since the start of the state of emergency and adjusted our food delivery based on these surveys.”
Maj. Wainwright added: ““The letter is not 100 percent accurate and the survey reflects that, with many of those who have complained singling out breakfasts.
“On the whole, soldiers are content with the food, but we are working to increase breakfast options and quality.”
He added that round the clock shifts had dictated a shift to continental breakfasts as many soldiers who came off duty in the early hours of the morning did not attend for the first meal of the day, which meant cooked food had been discarded.
But he said changes to the breakfast routine would mean a hot and continental breakfast selection on alternate days and that hot oatmeal would also be available.
Maj Wainwright added a revised schedule could also include delivery of food in insulated containers to suit the shift requirements of individual sections.
He said the Regiment had brought in a refrigerated shipping container, which would make it easier to keep vegetables and fruit fresh longer, and had also struck a deal with an island farmer to supply vegetables, to reduce reliance on the existing supply chain and imported produce.
“Everyone in the Regiment, including me, is eating the same food. We have surveyed our soldiers, we have listened to them and we will act to make more options available, even in these difficult times,” he added.
When contacted by Bermuda Real today for the follow up, our source said: “The soldiers received a hot meal this mornng and we’re grateful for the improvement.”
“I do hope that the other issues are rectified and maintained going forward and I trust they will rectify the rest of the issues as well.”