DFAC services: Bringing the heat, feeding the force

  • Published
  • By Air Force Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

When it comes to winning a war, victory can fall on which “army’s” troops are fed. To feed an Air Force, the Dining Facility Airmen bring the heat to their battleground, the kitchen. 

Through teamwork, adaption and striving for excellence, the Georgia Pines DFAC Airmen are able to ensure Team Moody is fed and ready to finish the fight.

“I think it’s good that we’re always getting food to people,” said Airman 1st Class Austin Draughon, 23d Force Support Squadron food service specialist. “Nobody works right on an empty stomach or if they’re hungry. Your body needs to be fed in order to do its daily operations the same way you need water. So by us serving, we’re essentially contributing to a much bigger picture than the light actually shines on us, because we’re feeding the people who are out there doing great things, and we’re a part of that.”

The 12-hour day of a DFAC Airman starts before the sun rises at 4:45 a.m., where they immediately begin making breakfast; and depending on the lunch menu, they may prepare that as well. Day-in and day-out, the DFAC revolves around their primary mission of feeding the more than 600 Airmen who live in the dorms.

One dynamic that allows the DFAC Airmen to finish their fight is their ability to work together. Without it, they would not be able to perform at the echelon of excellence needed to help keep Airmen nourished.

“Teamwork is huge at the DFAC,” Draughon said. “Each person plays an important part. Whether we’re all back there trying to cook and get our individual task done so we can all bring that meal together as one; or we have two people assigned to the front and one person backing up and one person prepping for tomorrow, that way the next shift that comes in will be able to do their task a lot more easily.”

Although teamwork is critical to the success of the DFAC’s efforts, it’s their ability to adapt to the situation on hand, as noted by Senior Airman Ardella Ring, 23d FSS food service storeroom manager, when she was working on a meal that had its fair share of twists.

“It was one of the first times I was in the back by myself,” Ring said. “Putting on a meal by yourself, there are a lot of moving components. I was prepping for the next day, and we were making ribs. I had boiled them and left them in the steam kennel too long, so they just fell to pieces. The meat was falling off the bones. They were supposed to be rib slabs, just a little tender. I thought I had messed this up. But then I had the idea to do pulled pork sandwiches. (My supervision) went with it, and they ended up being really good.”

Every DFAC’s goal is feeding an Air Force, but the Georgia Pines Airmen strive to show that they are the step above the rest. When it comes to culinary expertise, no greater achievement can be had for a DFAC than to win the Hennessy Award, which recognizes the best food service programs in the Air Force. Having won “Best of ACC” in 2012 and 2013, the DFAC hopes to go for another victory in 2018.

“We won while I was a shift leader,” said Tech. Sgt. Amber Poe, 23d FSS dining facility section chief, who was present during the previous Hennessy Award victory. “All the hard work we put into working here, like being on our feet for 10 hours straight, making foods from scratch, customer service, quality control, the cleanliness of the facility, it meant that we were doing something better than everybody else. We were recognized for doing everything one step better, and that was so amazing.” 

While no new awards are on the shelf just yet, every day the DFAC Airmen are rewarded in their pride and dedication they put into their food.

“Being fed is one of the biggest things to my heart,” said Airman Justin Magariello, 23d Logistics Readiness Squadron logistic planner. “I love the ease of going straight to the DFAC on base and getting to eat for free. You don’t have to go off base and grab anything to eat if you really don’t want to.”

From adapting to any circumstance that may come their way to their combined effort of teamwork, the DFAC Airmen are able to excel beyond the call of duty. That they are the Airmen who bring the heat to whatever battlefront they may find themselves in, home or away, always being able to serve up a meal for an Airman; a feast for an Air Force.