New era in food service coming to Air Force bases

By April Rowden: Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Air Force food services representatives have been meeting the dining needs of airmen and their families for more than 60 years through dining facilities, clubs and snack bars. To reflect changing times, a new look and feel is coming to the Air Force dining experience at select bases, mirroring a college “community commons.”

The Manpower, Personnel and Services community identified the transformation of food operations as the highest priority initiative to serve the Air Force community better and improve airmen’s quality of life.

By integrating dining facilities and nonappropriated fund food operations, the Air Force Food Transformation Initiative will offer airmen several advantages such as enhanced food quality, variety and availability, including additional healthy choices that support the Air Force’s continuous emphasis on fitness and overall well being; convenient locations with hours of operation aligned with customer needs; an improved community-oriented atmosphere; and a continued focus on home base and war fighting feeding capabilities.

“The Air Force has a long tradition of taking care of its airmen,” said Charles Milam, director of services for Manpower, Personnel and Services. By providing enhanced facilities with more food choices that include more nutritionally balanced meals and are available to more people, we are helping airmen and their families succeed personally and professionally.”

In addition to the benefits for airmen, officials implementing the initiative hope to improve workforce morale and productivity, restore a sense of community, and improve efficiency.

Currently, Air Force food services specialists operate more than 270 dining facilities and flight kitchens and more than 300 nonappropriated fund food and beverage operations, such as golf course and bowling center snack bars and clubs. During fiscal 2008, more than 91 million meals moved through the dining facilities and flight kitchens, and NAF food and beverage operations generated more than $193 million in sales.

“As with any Air Force program,” Milam said, “we constantly look to see where we need to focus our attention and to make certain that we give the best service with our available resources. We can do that by giving the best product to our airmen, providing more diverse training to our fighting force and supporting the Air Force community.”

People at six bases will begin seeing changes associated with the food transformation initiative in fiscal 2010: Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; Patrick AFB, Fla.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and Travis AFB, Calif. Depending on each base’s site survey results, airmen may see projects ranging from significant expansion of food offerings to minor face lifts.

Future implementation at additional bases will be considered based on the results at the pilot bases.