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Flight kitchen delivers: ready meals help Airmen fill basic need, keep mission focus

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, SD -- “All great change in America begins at the dinner table,” — President Ronald Reagan

Although this quote may not reflect the view of all Americans, the importance of food and the challenges of functioning while hungry do hold a truth with which most can agree and scientific research seems to support.

To combat those challenges, the flight kitchen’s charter is to minimize the distraction hunger may cause to allow Airmen to better focus on the mission.

“I can do my job and accomplish the mission no matter what, but when I’m hungry, it’s more difficult to concentrate,” said Staff Sgt. Monica Cox, 28th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster.

The primary mission of the flight kitchen is to provide meals in support of all units’ tasked with flightline operations.

This means providing meals for Airmen like Sergeant Cox who are unable to leave their work stations for meals, and those in support of 24-hour operations.

“Our main focus is to provide meals for aircrews, maintainers, firefighters, security forces, and support agencies like base operations, weather and airfield management,” said Tech. Sgt. Karen Kruse, 28th Services Squadron Flight Kitchen manager. “We directly impact the mission because if we weren’t here, the ‘ground guys’ who can’t leave their duty stations or make it to the dining facility might not get a hot meal.”

Most of the Airmen who work in the flight kitchen have experience in other parts of the services career field and serve up more than just a snack or a hot meal.

“I use the flight kitchen almost every day, and the customer service is always really good, and they are always friendly,” said Staff Sgt. Reggie Tatum, 28th OSS Airfield Management superintendent.

Senior Airmen Tiffany Kaminowski and Krista Trenkle, both flight kitchen food service specialists, worked at lodging and at the dining facility before joining the flight kitchen team and feel those experiences helped prepare them for the job.

“The customer service skills I learned have really helped,” said Airman Kaminowski. “It’s rewarding to know that we impact the mission … we support the pilots and those who can’t take off to eat.”

Airmen Trenkle agreed, adding “It’s rewarding to know we are keeping customers happy, and now that we serve hot meals, they aren’t missing as much if they can’t make it to the dining facility.”

The customer base for the flight kitchen is also extended to the rest of the base. Although pre-orders 30 minutes or more in advance is recommended for large orders, walk-ins are welcome.

“Our number one focus is flightline Airmen, but we are committed to meeting each customer’s individual needs while staying in compliance with Air Force Services Agency guidance,” said Sergeant Kruse.

The flight kitchen is open Sundays 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., Mondays through Thursdays

6 a.m. to 4 a.m. and Fridays

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu and price list is available on line at www.ellsworthservices.com

For more information or to place a pre-order, call the flight kitchen at 385-1058.