Soldiers staffing United Center vax site not getting enough food; Army working to fix problem with vendor

About 220 soldiers, most from the 101st Airborne Division, arrived in Chicago on Friday to work at the mass vaccination center set up outside the United Center.

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Soldiers running the mass vaccination site at the United Center have been hungry because they haven’t been fed enough food, a problem the Army says it’s aware of and trying to fix.

There are 222 soldiers, most from the 101st Airborne Division, who are staffing the vaccination site that opened Tuesday.

The soldiers arrived in Chicago on Friday and the food that’s been supplied to them since through a vendor hasn’t been adequate, Capt. Harpa Magnusdottir, an Army spokeswoman, acknowledged Wednesday.

“We are aware of the food contract being dissatisfactory to some of our soldiers. The leadership onsite, along with the contracting team, raised the issue with the vendor as soon as they were made aware. The vendor is working expeditiously to address these issues, and we expect them to be resolved quickly,” Magnusdottir said in an email.

“Soldiers’ well-being and readiness is our top priority,” Magnusdottir said.

Military spokesman Tim Lundberg said the issue arose because the contract with the vendor “wasn’t in firm enough language to ensure the food requirement was being met.”

The contract was rewritten on the fly and soldiers were to begin receiving hardier meals Wednesday.

Lundberg said the misstep “falls under the honest mistake category.” 

The wife of one of the soldiers working at the site brought the issue to the attention of the Chicago Sun-Times.

She asked not to be named, but said she was representing the wives of several soldiers who work with her husband, all of whom told their spouses they were hungry because not enough food was being provided.

She pointed to one meal consisting of a small salad and an orange and said her husband had lost weight since he’d been in Chicago. 

Magnusdottir said the soldiers, who arrive daily at the site before it opens at 9 a.m. and leave after it closes at 7 p.m., rely on the vendor for three meals a day.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the lead federal agency at the site. A message to FEMA was not immediately returned Wednesday.

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