In case you doubted the vast size and scale of the US military, this piece from the US Defence news will make you think again. Canadian Forces chaplains can only dream of an agency that would provide them with palm fronds while in the field or deployed. MP+

Agency Provides Meals, Supplies for Religious Observances
By Larry Levine
Defense Supply Center Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, March 24, 2010 – The Defense Logistics Agency’s supply center here is ensuring servicemembers around the globe have Passover meals available for observance of the upcoming Jewish holiday and palm fronds for the upcoming Christian observance of Palm Sunday.

Defense Supply Center Philadelphia is ensuring servicemembers around the globe have Passover meals available for observance of the upcoming Jewish holiday. DoD photo

In addition to supplying all daily meals, the Defense Logistics Agency also ensures troops receive traditional holiday meals and necessary religious supplies.

“As with all our holiday or special-event meals, our personnel begin demand planning and contacting customers as well as potential suppliers several months in advance to ensure timely delivery,” said Ray Miller, subsistence deputy director. “Our planning for meals for this Passover holiday began back in November.”

Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, is observed from sundown March 29 to April 9 this year. Traditionally, many Jewish people refrain from eating many leavened baked goods, including bread and cakes, during Passover. Some also refrain from eating rice or legumes, including beans and peas, during Passover. This can be difficult for military members in remote locations.

The four different main courses of the special Passover meals are canned salmon, bone-in chicken, gefilte fish and beef stew, all certified Kosher for Passover. The meals also contain with other Passover extras such as matzo and macaroons. Each meal is in a chemically activated, self-heating package.

The 12-meal cases will be distributed to U.S. warfighters throughout the world. While most U.S.-based servicemembers will have access to regular dining facilities or other local options for their Seder meals, most of the domestically delivered meals will go to servicemembers on training missions.

The retail value of the 10,932 Passover meals provided this year is $141,988.46. This represents an increase by almost 30 percent from 2009, when 8,424 meals were provided.

In addition to food items, the agency’s clothing and textiles supply chain provides Passover Seder kits containing special prayer books and robes. The supply chain’s ecclesiastical branch provides Seder kits to chaplains and Jewish servicemembers in the field.

DLA also supplies Christian and Orthodox Christian celebrants of Palm Sunday with palm leaves. Palm Sunday is celebrated the Sunday before Easter, and it commemorates Jesus Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem, when palm fronds were strewn in front of him. Traditional services include a procession of members of the congregation carrying palms.

“Whether servicemembers are in the field or on training assignments away from the regular places they would celebrate, Jewish and Christian alike, we offer all the items needed to conduct their respective ceremonies,” said Maryann Bonk, an inventory management specialist in the clothing and textiles ecclesiastical branch.