A garrison ration is the quantity and type of food served to a soldier when they are stationed somewhere. It is generally not the same as the rations fed to troops in combat or transit - usually termed combat rations, field rations, marching rations or some other task-specific term. This term is mostly used with respect to historical militaries. Modern thinking about nutrition and military logistical support is generally very different today, although people may still speak of garrison rations in relatively underdeveloped countries.
Traditionally, the garrison ration of an army was quite simple and often inadequate for basic nutrition. The British army in the 18th century encouraged troops to grow vegetables at their bases, and sometimes raise livestock, in order to supplement their nutrition. British garrison rations at the time generally consisted of one pound of bread and three-quarters of a pound of beef daily. 
Garrison rations in the United States[edit | edit source]
- One pound of beef, or 3/4 of a pound of pork or one pound of fish, per day. One pound of bread or flour per day. Three pints of peas or beans per week, or vegetables equivalent, at one dollar per bushel for peas or beans. One pint of milk per man per day. One half-pint of rice, or one pint of Indian meal per man per week. One quart of spruce beer, or cider, per man per day, or nine gallons of mollasses per company of one hundred men per week. Three pounds of candles to one hundred men per week, for guards. Twenty pounds of soft, or eight pounds of hard, soap for one hundred men per week.
These proportions changed fairly little until the American Civil War, although the exact contents varied somewhat. In 1863, potatoes were added to the ration at a rate of thirty pounds per hundred rations. The development of early nutrition science in the late 19th century led to changes to rations in 1892 that emphasized a more diverse selection of vegetables in addition to meat and potatoes. The principles behind the garrison ration came under fire after the Spanish-American War, as the long distance between American supply chains and troops fighting in Cuba, Puerto Rico and especially the Philippines left soldiers eating rotten foods and subsisting on canned goods that were made to very poor standards. The American death toll from bad food in that war exceeded combat fatalities.
By World War I, the American garrison ration had improved dramatically, including 137 grams of protein, 129 grams of fat, and 539 grams of carbohydrate every day, with a total of roughly 4000 calories. However, fresh vegetables were largely absent, and the ration was inadequate in terms of vitamins. Further advances in nutrition led to the replacement of the garrison ration in 1933 with the New Army ration, which ultimately developed into the rations system described at United States military ration.
Currently garrison rations that are prepared in dining facilities and mess halls use a standard pounds per hundred sheet for all meats. They also have standard recipe cards are follow guidenlines under TB MED530 for compliance standards.
[edit | edit source]
- Fresh Foods for the Army, 1775-1950 - Information on US Army ration history at the Quartermaster Museum
- Operational Rations of the Department of Defense, 7th Edition
See also[edit | edit source]
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