More healthy food options are coming to some Army and Air Force installations, with the addition of Freshëns Fresh Food Studio restaurants to the menu of eateries doing business on military installations.

Freshëns offers healthy, fresh, prepared-to-order items such as hand-crafted crepes, salads, rice bowls, artisan flatbreads, smoothies and yogurt. Army and Air Force Exchange officials are still finalizing the number of locations and opening dates, but the plan is to open at least four Freshëns locations within a year, according to an exchange service announcement.

"Offering a variety of choices is important, and restaurants such as Freshëns bring several new healthy options to the table," Nalan Howard, AAFES restaurant program planner, said in the announcement.

Rich Pickering, AAFES vice president of food and fuel, described the restaurants as "fast casual," which is popular with millennials, the 18- to 29-year-old demographic that a key part of AAFES' customer base.

In 2014, defense officials expressed concern about the comparative scarcity of healthy food choices on military installations, and announced a comprehensive study of dining facilities, fast food and vending machine options.

Those concerns surfaced in early findings of DoD's Healthy Base Initiative, a demonstration project on 14 sites launched in 2013, aimed at enhancing the health of troops, civilians and family members.

AAFES has been working with on-base restaurants regarding these choices. For example, the restaurant division worked with Popeyes to develop a healthy chicken salad that is exclusive to AAFES food courts, said AAFES spokesman Chris Ward. Also, the "Salad Wednesday" program offers $2 off on all entrée salads every Wednesday.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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