Ready to receive: feeding the force

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Bumpus
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

Between a hearty breakfast before a long day of work, or a filling dinner after hours of exertion, few things can ensure a productive day quite like a good meal.

To make sure visiting forces can stay on top of the mission, the dining facility at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, has to be woken up.

From cling wrapped appliances in an unused kitchen to four meals a day for 200 personnel, the DFAC at RAF Fairford sees a dramatic change in character when visiting forces arrive.

“Most of the year the DFAC is mothballed,” said Gary Dickson of the 420th Air Base Squadron. “We check it all over every three months, but everything’s all wrapped up to make sure it stays good for the next time we use it.”

It’s roughly a month before visiting forces arrive that signs of life come back to the DFAC.

“When we get to a month out we have to start ordering food,” said Dickson. “All of the frozen food has to be preordered. At that time we also do a 100 percent check on the electricals, hire a catering staff through local agencies and do a deep clean of the entire facility.”

However, as the arrival of visiting forces gets closer the tempo for the DFAC increases, the catering staff has to be cleared to work on base, which includes a health inspection to ensure the Air Force’s high standards are upheld.

Two days before the DFAC is opened the facility is handed over to the catering team so they can begin prep work, stock fridges and plan out staffing hours in accordance with the number of people they need to feed.

As a final touch to make sure the DFAC can exceed the needs of the visiting forces, during the first few weeks of service, the team is supervised by Jean-Marc Laurent, the former U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa command chef. He helps guide them into the rhythm of managing a bustling dining facility.

All of this preparation ensures the Airmen who deploy to RAF Fairford are ready to execute their mission. Just as the planes need fuel, the Airmen need food to make sure they can sustain the high tempo of the exercise.

In order to keep the Airmen fed the DFAC serves four meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and a midnight meal- in addition to flight meals as they are required.

The result of more than a month of preparation is the knowledge that the Airmen will be ready for whatever their day has in store.