Military News

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Feeding the fight

by Senior Airman Malia Jenkins
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

6/16/2015 - ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, England -- Hundreds of military personnel walk through the doors of the dining facility each day, hungry for the fuel they need to complete their mission while forward deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford in support of BALTOPS 15 and Saber Strike 15.

For breakfast, lunch and dinner--even midnight chow-- they are greeted by a variety of friendly faces: local university students, international students, Fairford residents and military chefs. For some of the dining facility staff members, this is their first time working on the base and interacting with members of the U.S. armed forces.

"Working with the members of the military is fine. They are really polite and well mannered," said Marimba Kircher, a cook at the DFAC and university student in Bristol, United Kingdom.

Although they don't have a military-service background, the DFAC staff has a service before self-attitude. It's an ethos that serves them well when accommodating customers with food allergies or other dietary requirements - even vegetarians or vegans.

"It's our job to make sure our eaters get what they need. We're here to serve and to make sure no one feels left out," said Beverly Kipande, a cook at the DFAC who is currently in school for her Master's Degree in Public Health.

RAF Fairford is considered a "warm" base maintained by the U.S. Air Force. With an approximately 10,000-foot runway and its proximity to Royal Air Force Welford, the base has a unique and versatile capability and is an ideal training area for large-scale exercises.

The base was transformed from a "warm" status to an active status in support of the BALTOPS and Saber Strike training missions, where the base supports more than 200 personnel.   

Mark Spencer, a staff member at the DFAC, said he always comes back when there's work available at the base, because the military personnel are pleasant to be around and polite. The staff at the dining facility is here to cater to everyone, he said.

"As a vegan, deployments and TDY's can be challenging," said Master Sgt. Zachary Melin, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs chief of operations. "Finding healthy meals is sometimes difficult when I don't have the facilities to prepare my own food."

"The staff here has been very flexible. Honestly, I've never experienced service quite this accommodating at a deployed location," Melin added.

According to Melin, quality food service is vital to the operation. Having nutritious meals available could be the difference between mission success or mission failure.

"I think it's important that everyone has an opportunity to eat a balanced diet. If you're not getting all the nutrients you need, your work could suffer as a result," Melin said. "The dining facility staff has done a great job ensuring our Airmen have what they need - even those with unique requirements."

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