Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

February 11, 2012 at 4:37am

FTI continues to transform food delivery for Airmen

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The Air Force Food Transformation Initiative began at six pilot locations a little over a year ago, and the ground-breaking initiative continues to make progress in redefining how food is delivered to today's Airmen.

In its first year, Airmen at the FTI pilot locations experienced revamped menu options, healthier selections, new aesthetic dining room designs and increased operating hours.

"(FTI) is improving the manner in which we deliver meal choices, food quality, speed of service, and the overall dining experience to our personnel," said Daniel Ginsberg, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "We will continue working with Congress, the secretary of defense, Air Staff and (Air Force) Services personnel in promoting and introducing FTI to other Air Force locations at the right time, sequence and manner."

Campus-style dining
Air Force Services officials said a top FTI success is the campus dining implementation, which allows Airmen on meal cards to eat at FTI-contracted, nonappropriated-fund food and beverage operations. This gives Airmen in the dorms the ability to eat at locations based upon personal preference and helps save them time if they work far from the dining facility. Pilot installations have served nearly 50,000 enlisted Airmen to date.

"Travis Airmen have embraced the campus style of dining," said Master Sgt. Kevin James, the 60th Force Support Squadron sustainment services flight superintendent at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "Our Airmen enjoy the varieties provided by FTI and have consistently expressed positive comments about the additional options, especially the 'Wingman's' and the Knucklebuster Café."

Campus dining is also a huge hit at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., said Lawrence Hornback, the 45th FSS chief of community services flight.
"Our single Airmen love being able to use their meal card at any one of five food and beverage operations run by our FSS team," Hornback said.

A sense of community
Another FTI success was enhancing a sense of Air Force community at the pilot locations by allowing civilians, families and retirees to eat at dining facilities along with total force Airmen.

"Without a doubt, the number one success since the start of FTI (at Patrick AFB) was allowing the larger base population to eat at our Riverside Dining facility," Hornback said. "Our number of customers have tripled, and our entire workforce raves about the selection, quality and price of food."

Allowing the installation community to eat at dining facilities resulted in an increase of total meals served from 1.42 million to more than 1.95 million customers served for all six pilot locations combined during the first year. Additionally, the number of Airmen using meal cards increased by more than 133,000 meals during the first year.

During the first year, pilot locations increased dining facility hours of operation from an average of 55 hours per week to an average of 110 hours per week, providing more accessibility to customers.

Two pilot locations took accessibility a step further by incorporating food kiosks, called provisions on demand, to provide grab-and-go hot and cold food and beverages for Airmen working far from dining facilities. Officials said they will continue to review additional locations for PODs.

The future
The second year of the initiative includes renovating pilot location dining facilities to further enhance food delivery. Instead of traditional cafeteria-style serving lines, the renovations will add serving stations such as salads, sandwiches and pizza, allowing customers to proceed directly to their station of choice, James said. A "Cooking Light" area will provide made-to-order, nutritious menu entrees for those desiring healthy dining options.

"The days of waiting in line for a sandwich while the chef is busy serving from the snack line are done," James said. "FTI renovations will provide our customer base an improved dining experience and our chefs the resources to provide better service to the Travis community."

Additionally, the pilot locations will implement branded concepts at NAF food and beverage operations including "Wingman's" at the enlisted and collocated clubs, "Tenpins" at the bowling centers and "Fairways" at the golf courses.

Other pilot locations include Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and MacDill AFB, Fla.

For more information about Air Force food service operations and other quality of life programs, visit www.usafservices.com or www.myairforcelife.com.

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