Take this job and love it: Mission readiness being solved one meal at a time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Battles
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
Editor's Note: This is the second in a series called "Take this job and love it," which are stories based on service members with interesting careers and their experiences.

Cooking dinner for family and friends is a typical routine for many service members each day, but for the Airmen working in the Osan Air Base dining facilities, providing three meals a day every day, for seven days a week, 365 days a year to more than 3,800 service members is a way of life.

Throughout the year more than 1.3 million meals are served between Osan's three dining facilities, and more than 4,000 pounds of food are served each day.

"We see the entire base populace here at Osan, so you definitely get to interact and learn our customers and their likes and dislikes," said Staff Sgt. Chelby Allen, 51st Force Support Squadron stockroom manager.

Due to the larger amount of meal-card holders at Osan, Airmen working in the dining facility need to be quick on their feet, she said.

During an average week the DFACs serve more than 1,200 pounds of chicken breast, roughly 900 dozen eggs, nearly 250 pounds of hamburger patties, approximately 1,000 pounds of rice and an estimated 400 pound of chicken quarters.

"It's a little more up-tempo (cooking in Korea) than some of the smaller stateside bases because almost everybody has to eat here, so the number is definitely larger," Allen said.

During a normal duty day, Airmen work an average of 10 hours prepping, cooking and serving a minimum of two meals during a shift.

"Teamwork is key," Allen said. "We work on a progressive cooking method, so it's all about timing," Allen said.

In the kitchen, each member has to work together to make sure as one item goes out to the serving line, one is being cooked and one is being prepared so we don't run out, she said.

Osan dining facilities also work on a 14-day rotating meal schedule, which gives variety throughout the month.

"I am told by leadership almost every day that my job is very important to the mission no matter how small," said Mariah Johnson, 51st Force Support Squadron food apprentice. "I start to believe it when you can make that one person's morning or day just by your service to them and the smile on your face."

During their six-week service training, Airmen learn not only the in's and out's of the kitchen, but fitness center and lodging operations.

So next time you swipe a meal card, remember each item has been prepared by a culinary enthusiasts with a flair for creating delectable treats.