NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Members of USS Iwo Jima's (LHD 7) culinary staff are going above and beyond their normal workload in support of military and civilian relief workers here.
Although service members involved in the hurricane relief effort are equipped with field rations, many have traveled miles from their posts to get a taste of what Iwo Jima's Sailors enjoy since mooring pierside in the Big Easy Sept. 5.
Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Lee L. Allen, Iwo Jima's senior culinary specialist, says their support has grown beyond the ship's crew to include a variety of members of Joint Task Force Katrina.
"There are people here from every branch of the military," Allen said. "Civilian officials, too. But we all respect the same flag and share the same mission - and that's to help the citizens of New Orleans."
Army Pfc. Jason Propst of the 782nd Main Support Battalion, Airborne Division, was excited about his first Navy lunch.
"We travelled 45 minutes to get our hands on some real food," Propst said. "These guys are doing a really great job."
Propst isn't the only one with that opinion. Uniforms of every color are turning out in droves for Iwo Jima's hot helpings, including local police and fire officials.
Chief Warrant Officer Martinez Miller, Iwo Jima's food service officer, says his crew is surpassing even its own expectations while preparing the more than 6,300 meals per day.
"Normally, when [embarked] Marines come aboard, we receive 25 additional culinary specialists as well as 65 or so food service attendants," Miller said, "These guys have been [working] without that, and they're still serving the same amount of personnel - while wearing a smile on their face."
Miller said his staff does all it can to ensure nobody tires of the cuisine, as variety is a chief concern for crew and cook alike. "We have to be creative," Miller said.
For the latest Navy news on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/hurricane/.