WASHINGTON — There will be more than 12 times as many pies heading to U.S. troops deployed away from their loved ones this Thanksgiving — a total of 81,360 versus last year's pie count of 6,288.
Why is there a pie surge? It's a mystery.
Traditionally, the Defense Logistics Agency, which handles food supplies for the military, feeds troops that are deployed in hazardous areas over the holidays. In past years the DLA has sent meals to troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and other bases in the Central Command area and the Middle East. There are currently about 40,000 troops in those sectors, a number similar to the 2017 total.
This year, the U.S. also has more than 5,000 troops on border duty in Texas, Arizona and California.
But according to DLA spokeswoman Michelle McCaskill, none of those extra pumpkin and pecan pies are going to the troops at the border. This Thanksgiving those troops will be fed largely with food from nearby bases, with DLA supplementing some food in Texas and Arizona.
That means the troops in the Africom and Centcom sectors — whose numbers are largely stable from last year — will be getting an extra 75,000 pies.
McCaskill told NBC News that "the huge increase in pies from this year in comparison to last year was due to a change in menu planning on behalf of the services."
McCaskill did not specify whether the "change in menu planning" meant a change in serving size or the definition of "pie." She did say they would not be saving leftovers for Christmas and New Year's.
And it's not just the pie shipments that have increased. The amount of all holiday food items going to deployed troops in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa is much higher.
This Thanksgiving, DLA will provide 10,000 more pounds of ham than last year, 25,000 more pounds of beef, and more than double the 2017 amount of shrimp.
In addition to tens of thousands of extra pies, DLA will also send 9,000 more gallons of eggnog to troops this year than last, and 10,000 more cakes. Many of those extra cakes are cheesecakes, which have a pie-like crust.
Total calories were not available at time of publication.