Pay As You Dine (PAYD) - or "the privatisation of the cookhouse" as it has come to be called - began being introduced in 2005. It requires that soldiers not on active duty must pay for each individual meal rather than having a standard monthly food charge deducted from their salary to cover all their meals (kind of like PAYE). According to the MoD, PAYD is "a feeding model (sic) where Service personnel only pay for what they eat and is replacing an outmoded system where personnel paid in advance. It is therefore a fairer system and, as it does not apply to personnel at sea on exercise or on operations, where feeding is free, it is a decisive step in improving the well-being of personnel." In theory "everyone will have the choice and flexibility to eat what they want, when they want and how they want"
In practice however things have turned out quite differently. PAYD was one the areas that came in for particularly strong criticism in General Sir Richard Dannatt's Briefing Team Report published in November 2007. The report said: "There are real concerns about the new eating habits of some soldiers due to Pay As You Dine. A Pot Noodle and sandwich culture is being created and soldiers are cooking rations over gas burners in their rooms. There are apocryphal stories of soldiers flaking out during PT sessions from a lack of nutrients."
Six months on and the situation has got even worse. A Briefing Team Report in May 2008 has revealed that some soldiers are living in such poverty that by the end of the month they are having to rely on food vouchers under the "Hungry Soldier" scheme to get them enough to eat. As the cost of the vouchers is deducted from their future wages, this adds yet further to the problems of soldiers on low pay. The quality of the food provided under PAYD has also come in for a lot of criticism as have the confusing and bureaucratic procedures that surround it.
General Dannatt may well be "determined that PAYD must be made to work". Far better would be get rid of the whole thing and return to the traditional practice of "three square meals a day for free". A petition to achieve this has been launched by Parcels 43 Supporting Our Troops; to sign it visit:
Link> The Independent: Soldiers need loans to eat, report reveals
Link> The Sun: Soldiers get grub vouchers