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20th Century Rider

Conductor
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Jan 26, 2020
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Gross. I've had that meal and I couldn't finish it. Not because it was filling.
Neither could the passenger who took this pic of that same meal that didn't get finished. Notice how they threw the plasticware wrapper in the mess before throwing it away???

Many of those inedible meals go unfinished... you're not alone!!! 🤮 🤢🤑

A real flex meal - not edible.png
 

FrensicPic

Conductor
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
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3,104
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LAX
Here are five labels I was able to photograph last September on a western LD train. The meals were brought to the table with the plastic film and label still intact!
20200924_175859x.jpg20200923_185912x.jpg20200923_193621x.jpg20200923_121550x.jpg20200923_121535x.jpg
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
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Gator Country Florida
Thanks. I looked them over .... however:

Maybe someone with better eyesight than me can recreate these labels into something a little more legible
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
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me_little_me

Conductor
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Note that federal law requires ingredients to be listed in order of most to least so that the Chicken Marsala "meal" has chicken next to last and veggies last.

Now that's a healthy meal! If you like eating garbage.

It should be described as faux Marsala Sauce with a few extra minor ingredients.

Scientists say you can get sick from second hand smoke. Wonder if the staff can get sick from second-hand gross-eries. They might die just from touching the containers day after day.
 

joelkfla

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
380
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
Interesting that they have to be thawed in the fridge overnight. I wonder whether unsold meals are held in the fridge for the next day, or next next day. Maybe that explains the reported variations in texture, such as the sturdiness of the meatballs.
 

lordsigma

Conductor
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Messages
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It’s ridiculously unpopular among enthusiasts and railfans and longtime rail travelers who are well aware of what railroad dining cars used to be and others where the dining car was one of the main reasons they traveled by train (and of course those of us with dietary restrictions and more conscious of what we are eating.) But I think if you were to poll travelers as a whole you’d probably be surprised how many are either fine with it or don’t care that much - the only person I heard complaining about it on my last trip is an employee. On my recent trips I only heard people say that they either liked it or that it wasn’t bad - especially among the people that I’ve talked to where they are, like me, relatively new to traveling by train. Now of course I’m not talking to everyone and the amount of people you see coming out of their rooms with Covid is limited but just reporting what I’ve experienced recently. I’m not saying there aren’t many that don’t like it - just that it may not be as universally despised in the general Amtrak traveler population as much as it is among those of us who are long time enthusiast riders. I say this was no disrespect towards those folks here - I think that’s an important aspect of Amtrak’s ridership that it shouldn’t push away. But here we are.
 

Maverickstation

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 2, 2017
Messages
274
Location
Boston, MA (Eastie)
We will have to wait and see what 2021 brings in the form of Amtrak's dining service, but as many have pointed out the current Flex Dining program leaves much to be desired, and frankly nothing on that menu is good for anyone watching sodium in take (like me). I actually had someone challenge me on this one, asking don't I ever splurge on a food that may be higher in sodium that I should eat ? The answer being of course from time to time, but that splurge is for something really good, not the Flex Dining crap. On to another part of this tale is that since the advent of Amfleet, Amtrak has attempted to "tweek" Dining Car service this consistent pattern of inconsistency does nothing to help with LD ridership, and satisfaction.

Some of the "tweeks" included dropping full service dining, for Amdinette Service with "tray meals"on trains like the Montrealer. In the 1980's the Florida trains had full service dining eliminated for "buffet" style service, and when traditional dining was brought back there was a period when it was only offered south of Washington D.C. Then in 2006 the SDS (Simplified Dining Service) commenced, in this program the kitchen staff was cut back and entrees were premade and reheated on board. The initial SDS program banned to use of the grill, so steaks, and fresh eggs went out the window.
The SDS program went away by 2011, and the current traditional dining program (when and if it returns) is basically a compromise between the earlier versions of traditional dining car service and the SDS program. See the link below, for details on the SDS program, it makes for interesting reading. Lastly one of the better options Amtrak offered was the Cross Country Cafe service, this service offered an all day menu from 11:00 am on, with special dinner entrees from 5:00 to 9:00, a separate breakfast menu, and a "grab and go" case, I guess this was too up to date for them.

 
Joined
Nov 29, 2020
Messages
14
Location
Houston
It’s ridiculously unpopular among enthusiasts and railfans and longtime rail travelers who are well aware of what railroad dining cars used to be and others where the dining car was one of the main reasons they traveled by train (and of course those of us with dietary restrictions and more conscious of what we are eating.) But I think if you were to poll travelers as a whole you’d probably be surprised how many are either fine with it or don’t care that much - the only person I heard complaining about it on my last trip is an employee. On my recent trips I only heard people say that they either liked it or that it wasn’t bad - especially among the people that I’ve talked to where they are, like me, relatively new to traveling by train. Now of course I’m not talking to everyone and the amount of people you see coming out of their rooms with Covid is limited but just reporting what I’ve experienced recently. I’m not saying there aren’t many that don’t like it - just that it may not be as universally despised in the general Amtrak traveler population as much as it is among those of us who are long time enthusiast riders. I say this was no disrespect towards those folks here - I think that’s an important aspect of Amtrak’s ridership that it shouldn’t push away. But here we are.
I am both a long-time rail traveler and a train enthusiast but must disagree with you. No disrespect taken.
The on-board food served in Amtrak dining cars of late didn't come close to comparing to the food served in dining cars in the 40s-60s era. But Amtrak's food was still good, not great, but was healthier, and was definitely edible with several options. There is no excuse to serve this so-called food (flex-meal) that Amtrak is serving today. None. With the increase in cost to ride a sleeper, it should be easy for Amtrak to pay a few dollars more for the flex meals resulting in a better product. Due to the pandemic, there are quality, ready-to-eat offerings available from multiple sources for your choosing. Why can't Amtrak offer the same? They could.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,163
On my recent trips I only heard people say that they either liked it or that it wasn’t bad - especially among the people that I’ve talked to where they are, like me, relatively new to traveling by train. Now of course I’m not talking to everyone and the amount of people you see coming out of their rooms with Covid is limited but just reporting what I’ve experienced recently.
The expectations of anyone traveling right now are going to be very low. Airlines are giving first class passengers a snack bag and most restaurants have modified menus including fast food restaurants like McDonald’s.

I don’t think there is a magical line drawn between “enthusiasts” and the general public.
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,317
Location
Oregon Coast
Note that federal law requires ingredients to be listed in order of most to least so that the Chicken Marsala "meal" has chicken next to last and veggies last.

Now that's a healthy meal! If you like eating garbage.

It should be described as faux Marsala Sauce with a few extra minor ingredients.

Scientists say you can get sick from second hand smoke. Wonder if the staff can get sick from second-hand gross-eries. They might die just from touching the containers day after day.
On that ingredient label towards the top... did you see... sodium, fat, food enhancers, food extenders, followed by cautionary labels saying 'consumption can be hazard to health???

Or is the fine print too small to see?

Did you know that 'fine print' means the food is not fine?

Is Amtrak trying to discourage sleeper car travel by making us pay for this stuff??? 🤮🥴🤢🥵🥶🥺

"A flex meal is a 'gag joke!"

%22A flex meal is a 'gag joke!%22.png
 

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,317
Location
Oregon Coast
We will have to wait and see what 2021 brings in the form of Amtrak's dining service, but as many have pointed out the current Flex Dining program leaves much to be desired, and frankly nothing on that menu is good for anyone watching sodium in take (like me). I actually had someone challenge me on this one, asking don't I ever splurge on a food that may be higher in sodium that I should eat ? The answer being of course from time to time, but that splurge is for something really good, not the Flex Dining crap. On to another part of this tale is that since the advent of Amfleet, Amtrak has attempted to "tweek" Dining Car service this consistent pattern of inconsistency does nothing to help with LD ridership, and satisfaction.

Some of the "tweeks" included dropping full service dining, for Amdinette Service with "tray meals"on trains like the Montrealer. In the 1980's the Florida trains had full service dining eliminated for "buffet" style service, and when traditional dining was brought back there was a period when it was only offered south of Washington D.C. Then in 2006 the SDS (Simplified Dining Service) commenced, in this program the kitchen staff was cut back and entrees were premade and reheated on board. The initial SDS program banned to use of the grill, so steaks, and fresh eggs went out the window.
The SDS program went away by 2011, and the current traditional dining program (when and if it returns) is basically a compromise between the earlier versions of traditional dining car service and the SDS program. See the link below, for details on the SDS program, it makes for interesting reading. Lastly one of the better options Amtrak offered was the Cross Country Cafe service, this service offered an all day menu from 11:00 am on, with special dinner entrees from 5:00 to 9:00, a separate breakfast menu, and a "grab and go" case, I guess this was too up to date for them.

After all is said and done, the trend is towards cheep and cheeper... hmmm... not very chipper... Meh! 😨
 

Manny T

OBS Chief
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
518
Location
Chicago IL
Thanks to FrensicPic for posting the labels! I haven't been able to find the ingredients for these "meals" posted anywhere else. This is really a service.

Apart from the ingredients, three things are interesting to me: the distributor, New Horizon Industries Inc. of Jamaica NY -- I haven't been able to find information about this company on-line. Also the Vendor #FK241 and the WIMS# (varies by meal). Don't know what these are.

My feeling is, if we got some insight into who manufactures and distributes this stuff and then purveys it for profit to Amtrak, we might be able to figure out who sold the idea to Amtrak, what the company connections are, and why this miserable fail was foisted on the American riding public that is paying top dollar for sleeper accommodations.
 

OBS

Conductor
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Nov 9, 2011
Messages
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Location
Long Island, NY
Thanks to FrensicPic for posting the labels! I haven't been able to find the ingredients for these "meals" posted anywhere else. This is really a service.

Apart from the ingredients, three things are interesting to me: the distributor, New Horizon Industries Inc. of Jamaica NY -- I haven't been able to find information about this company on-line. Also the Vendor #FK241 and the WIMS# (varies by meal). Don't know what these are.

My feeling is, if we got some insight into who manufactures and distributes this stuff and then purveys it for profit to Amtrak, we might be able to figure out who sold the idea to Amtrak, what the company connections are, and why this miserable fail was foisted on the American riding public that is paying top dollar for sleeper accommodations.
The WIMS # is just a number assigned to each product for Amtrak inventory purposes, and has no relevance to the Manufacturer....
 

jiml

Conductor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
2,558
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Is it really just one person serving as a middleman or something?

Link...
Yikes, if they only have 1 employee and do $80K in sales one has to wonder if Amtrak is the only customer. "Middleman" or "Coordinator" might actually be their only role, incorporated for tax and liability reasons. Given the location, I wonder if the business is co-located with others doing similar work for airlines.
 
Last edited:

20th Century Rider

Conductor
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,317
Location
Oregon Coast
Thanks to FrensicPic for posting the labels! I haven't been able to find the ingredients for these "meals" posted anywhere else. This is really a service.

Apart from the ingredients, three things are interesting to me: the distributor, New Horizon Industries Inc. of Jamaica NY -- I haven't been able to find information about this company on-line. Also the Vendor #FK241 and the WIMS# (varies by meal). Don't know what these are.

My feeling is, if we got some insight into who manufactures and distributes this stuff and then purveys it for profit to Amtrak, we might be able to figure out who sold the idea to Amtrak, what the company connections are, and why this miserable fail was foisted on the American riding public that is paying top dollar for sleeper accommodations.
What a sad litany is this discussion on such an offensive food product. Regardless of the vendor, Amtrak takes responsibility for charging sleeping car passengers for it... and dispensing it. Amtrak's policy on vendors is below; and the address mentioned is apparently a distribution point [see below for physical pic].


Distribution Center Amtrak Flex Meals.png
 
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