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Arbitration reports uncovers bad food at Fort McCoy

Soldiers at Fort McCoy near Sparta were never served some of their meals in 2005-06.

And when they did eat, a lack of food safety procedures often put bugs on their plates.

The problems came to light this month, when the Associated Press reviewed an arbitration case involving Janet Dickey.

She managed the food service under a contract the state received as part of a military program that puts blind people to work.

The Army canceled the contract in 2006, accusing workforce development official Joseph D'Costa of not properly supervising Dickey's work.

The state pointed its fingers at the Army.

D'Costa said the buildings provided a poor dining experience, and the state won't return until it puts up modern dining facilities.

Dickey won a $225,000 arbitration ruling. The state has challenged the award in court.

The state won the contract in 2003, and things were said to go well the first two years.

But the -P said only two of 16 food buildings at McCoy had air conditioning, and workers were forced to open doors which brought bugs in.

Fort spokeswoman Linda Fournier says the Army has spent $14 million to improve the food service buildings over the last two years, and most now have air conditioning.

She also said the fort is happy with its new contractor and the food has vastly improved.

The contract for blind vendors is up for renewal in June, but the state won't apply.

Spokesman Dick Jones says the state believes there are better opportunities for people with disabilities.