Air Force puts 'bread' in Airmen pockets

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Kim
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Noon rolls around and stomachs begin rumble--the gastric moans and groans set off thoughts of delectable delights awaiting the arrival of ravenous patron's to feast at the nearest fast-food restaurant. As thoughts fixate on iconic symbols that represent gluttony goodness, Airmen wander past the award-winning sustenance that the Air Force provides.

The Reef and Riptide dining facilities offer award-winning dining services for Airmen on Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Better known as "chow halls," these facilities are seven-time John L. Hennessy Award winners, winning the award for two consecutive years in 2011 and 2012.

"It's hard to [win two years in a row]," said Staff Sgt. William Kirk III, food service specialist and shift leader 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron . "It's not just about the food, but things like cleanliness and training standards. It's the dining facility as a whole."

According to the Hennessey Award website, "The Hennessy Travelers Association acts as an advisory group of travelers from [food and service industries] to develop techniques, management skills, advise and mentor Armed Forces food and beverage professionals."

The Reef dining facility sports a buffet-style menu with an array of food options from salads, to several main entrées and side dishes, sandwich bar, large meat carvings for lunch and a wide selection of desserts. The Riptide dining facility offers an a la carte option for the eater-on-the-go, charging each item at an affordable price.

The dining facilities also sport small colored placards indicating the recommended amount of consumption of different types of food, red cards indicate foods to eat rarely, and green cards indicate "performance foods" that Airmen should consume regularly to maintain a healthy diet.

The real benefit, however, is the softened financial hit Airmen take to their pockets by dining at restaurants two to three times a day. Airmen expect to pay anywhere from approximately $4.50 for smaller meal deals to $8.00 for larger meals at popular fast food restaurants in the local area. The Reef offers a buffet with its full breakfast spread at the relative lowly price of $4.20 while their lunch and dinner buffet spreads are offered at $6.20; money that goes right back to the military.

"You're giving back the money to the military so the military can keep doing what it does--providing service to the Airmen," Kirk said.

Additionally, highly trained and qualified Airmen showcase their skills for breakfast, lunch and dinner to keep stomachs full to fly, fight and win.

"I like cooking, I always wanted to learn how to cook," said Senior Airman Broderick Bryan, food service specialist of 1st Special Operation Force Support Squadron. "The management here is really good, the environment, and everybody here is really good and I really enjoy working here.

At the end of the day, the amalgamation of all these factors simply put "bread" back in Airmen pockets, and it truly exemplifies Air Force quality.

"Excellence in everything we do," Kirk said. "It's not just doing your day-to-day job. It's looking to improve on what you're doing, knowing the standards and practicing the standards habitually."