Visit to the Puyallup Assembly Center

Visit to Puyallup Assembly Center. In American concentration camps: a documentary history of the relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans, 1942-1945. New York: Garland, 1989.

In July 1942, Mary I. Barber, a food consultant, and J.W. Brearley, 1st Lieutenant, QMC, surveyed assembly centers in regards to subsistence and procurement methods, food preparation, nutritional adequacy and management of mess halls. They reported their findings concerning food preparation and supplies to Lieutenant Colonel Ira K. Evans. The Puyallup report is dated July 21, 1942.

SUBJECT: Visit to Puyallup Assembly Center
TO: Lieutenant Colonel Ira K. Evans

  1. This Center is divided into four areas. The whole appearance of the grounds in all the areas was good. They were free from papers and other refuse. The people, as has been the case in all the Centers, look clean and happy.

The attitude of the people in the Puyallup Assembly Center was pleasing. They were willing and even seemed glad to talk about the food and the surroundings.

The administrative staff spoke highly of the cooperation of the Army and the marketing centers. Perishables are received twice weekly.

The guards at this Center were more strict than in other Centers, probably because of the way the areas are divided.

  1. FOOD

Area "D". 2400 people are served in this mess. The food is excellent in quality and the cooking was good. Unusual care was taken by the girls who served to see that the plates were made attractive. The service was slow in this mess, due to a bottle-neck in the feeding line. It was suggested that two lines could be set up. There was ample space for additional people and there seemed to be no reason why they could not all sit down at the same time. A second line would prevent hundreds of people from standing around waiting for the first group to finish feeding.

The pastry products are made daily in the bake shop of this area and distributed to the entire camp. This was the only place on our tour that we saw this procedure being carried out. The products were delicious and the cooks used recipes, so that there was some standardization in their methods and the results.

The food in this Center seemed to be more American in flavor than at Tanforan or Portland.

A special section of the mess hall was reserved for people on special diets and for children. 370 persons were being served here. High chairs were provided for the children.

The special diets were served from one counter by young women. The food was excellent and served attractively.

The children were served from another counter. Smaller plates were used and smaller portions given, so there was little or no waste. Both adults on diets and the children there had all the milk they wanted to drink. This was served in quart bottles.

Area "A". There are six kitchens in this area, each serving 500 persons. We visited this area after the meal had been served. Cafeteria style of service is used. The cooks had built mixing-bowl stands that were very useful and efficient.


The kitchens were not up to army standards in cleanliness, although the cooking was probably superior to the army, especially in so far as the vegetables are concerned.

The ranges were dirty. This was noticed in every mess visited in all the Centers, with but one exception. The stewards should be instructed to pay special attention to the ranges so as to keep down the replacement of parts. In fact, better kitchen police is advisable in nearly all of the centers.


Storage rooms and refrigerators were clean.


The hospital mess was excellent. The food was cooked and served in this kitchen for all the patients.


Subsistence is well handled. Standards are better than in some of the other Centers, and apparently the majority of people were well satisfied.

There was no indication that surplus fats or bones were being salvaged. No soap was being made.

In two areas the garbage was being hauled away for hog feed. In the other two it was taken to the city dump. It would be well if an adjustment could be made so that fats, bones and garbage could be sold.

Respectively submitted,

Food Consultant.

1st. Lieut. QMC