1. Why Europe?
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the receiving hospital for nearly all troops who are wounded or injured on deployment. While some of the worst cases transition through fairly quickly, the truly critical must remain there in order to be stabilized, often with family in attendance. Those whose are less critical also can end up staying some extra time. Most of all, those who can be treated, rehabilitated,and sent back to their units also remain at Landstuhl, sometimes with their families. Those who stay are sometimes lost in the shadow of the ones who move through quickly, as are their caregivers. Doing events at Landstuhl gives us the opportunity to let them know they are not forgotten and are appreciated, and allows us to give some measure of comfort to the families and caregivers who deal with it all. In addition, Europe is home to a number of U.S. bases, which include Warrior Transition Barracks, TBI Centers, and other facilities. Based on the success of [LTP]Operation FPH Blues and its model of operations, we are expanding our operations to provide educational (and fun) events to all such facilities.
2. You’re doing cookouts; so what?
The barbecues and special food events are indeed one time events. However, they bring a change of pace to those coping with wounds/injuries/etc., and serve as a tangible reminder that their service and sacrifice are not forgotten. They are also the tip of the iceberg of what we are trying to do.
3. Oh yeah, what else do you do?
We work to help troops who are interested — particularly the wounded and disabled — find culinary careers. We want to do more to help the front line troops, both now and in the future; and, we are working to provide education and culinary pleasure to the families and caregivers at home.
4. You want to teach them to become chefs???
We want to help those interested in culinary careers successfully move into them. Food and beverage careers include much more than being a chef, and our goal is to help those interested explore, learn, and transition. Rather than scholarships, our focus is on working with existing schools and institutions to allow aspiring students to explore the full range of options, so they can make an informed decision on where to apply their GI education benefits; and, we want to work to help them get internships and other opportunities as well.
5. What are you going to do for the guys on the line?
We hope to do three different things. First, we want to work to help get the best range of snacks and supplements to them, to match the needs in a given area and for the time of year. Comfort food needs change with both. Second, we do hope to get as far forward to do some food events for them. Third, we plan to offer assistance with the next generation of field rations, making use of food contacts working on NASA long-term efforts to top chefs and nutrition experts who may can help.
6. You want to educate the families?
Yes. Cooking lessons that used to be passed down in families no longer are. Those wounded are also going to have different nutrition needs. We want to help families learn how to cook good food fast rather than depend on fast food. In the process, we can teach both adults and children food and cooking basics, work with families and caregivers at need on special cases, and also let them all know that their sacrifices are appreciated as well. That we can do so in a tasty and fun way is a bonus.
7. How soon will you be doing all this?
As fast as we can. Part depends on you: we need both funds and qualified people to help on the educational portion. We can always use willing hands at the food events to clean, to serve, to help. We also need people who can help teach cooking basics, food and nutrition, field and regular sanitation, and more. The faster we can raise funds, and find the skilled help we need on the latter, the sooner all four planks of our plan will be in place.
8. Why do you need administrative funds?
We need them to keep this web site up and running, for one thing. Administrative funds are what allow us to print and send letters, answer the phone, travel to events and meetings, showcase who we are and what we do, have a web site, and much more. We want to keep them as low as possible, and as such our Board of Directors is entirely voluntary, and we have plans in place to keep any paid staff — which we do hope to have eventually — to a minimum. We have also put things into place to keep salaries as low as we can. Cooking with the Troops is not an effort to make anyone rich, except perhaps in terms of the spirit.
9. How do I know if you are spending the money well?
Please see the [LTP]legal portion of this site, as we have our bylaws, policies, and more there. We also plan to post our [LTP]financial data regularly there as well, so that you can see what we are doing and how well we are doing.
10. Aside from money and people, what else do you need?
We need ingredients, supplies, and more.
11. Why do special food events cost more than the barbecues?
Ingredients and travel are the largest reason. Special food events involve non-local travel, and feature meals that often cost a bit more than a barbecue. These events are at remote locations, where we don’t have the support, be it gear or donated food and supplies, and they are more likely to feature guest chefs and others. While our guest chefs donate their time, we do need to cover their travel costs as well as our own.
12. Why do you cover travel and such for guest chefs?
Most chefs are not rich, to be polite. Nor is cooking a way to get rich unless you are lucky enough to get a TV and/or book deal. The guest chefs taking part may be taking vacation, they may be taking time off without pay, and they may even be shutting down their normal operation to do our event. It is only right and proper that we cover their travel expenses.