Dietary requirements of Muslim and Jewish military personnel were long overlooked by the armed forces, leaving many strict followers to survive on peanut butter, fruits and vegetables, and cereal.
Thanks in large part to two Chicago companies, these troops now have everything from lamb and lentil stew, and cheese tortellini, without feeling a burden on their consciences.
My Own Meals Inc. and J&M Food Products Co. are the U.S. military's sole suppliers of prepackaged meals that meet Muslim and Jewish dietary standards.
Produced and packaged under the careful eye of Jewish and Muslim inspectors, the kosher and Halal meals Ready to Eat have only been available in the military since the mid-1990s.
Jewish or Muslim personnel make up .5 percent of the U.S. military, said Mary Anne Jackson, president of My Own Meals.
"While the numbers aren't necessarily big, the demand is changing," she said. "A new market niche is emerging."