MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Controlled and methodical chaos fills the dining facility as Airmen rush to the lines of food. This is a familiar setting for the staff, keeping with the tempo by serving fresh food to about 500 Airmen each day.
Every day, meal times bring rushes to the Dakota Inn Dining Facility, but the staff ensures Team Minot is fed quickly and ready to complete the mission.
“If Airmen don’t eat, they end up lacking in their jobs, which in turn affects the mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Mario Super, 5th Force Support Squadron dining facility assistant manager. “It’s our job to keep them energized and ready to roll.”
There is a lot of preparation that goes into each meal outside their serving hours. The staff gathers meal items no earlier than a day prior to serving.
“Certain work has to be done before we can cook,” said Airman Clifford Ecarma, 5th FSS food services apprentice. “There’s meat that needs to be thawed, potatoes cut, certain foods that can be cooked beforehand. We make sure every dish is good to go before it is served.”
In addition to preparing, cooking and serving, DFAC Airmen are assigned a station during serving hours. They are responsible for replacing dishes as well as cleaning their stations.
Minot Air Force Base’s dining facility is employed by both Airmen and contract chefs, ensuring the DFAC is always at least 90 percent manned. This helps the staff schedule Airmen fairly with the opportunity for days off.
Airmen are employed in two shifts of nine hours, one starting from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., the other from noon to 9 p.m.
“While we work normal hours, a lot of people don’t realize that we are still open through base down days, holidays and during inclement weather,” said Super. “Not everyone gets Saturday and Sunday off either, we have to divide the weekend equally.”
During inclement weather, many civilian workers call in for safety purposes. The DFAC relies on their Airmen who live in the dorms to cover any shortfalls.
“We are the only food location on base that stays open during inclement weather,” said Super. “We ensure we have the manpower to operate, but we give the Airmen their time back if they weren’t scheduled that day.”
Although the DFAC’s main audience consists of dorm Airmen, they allow all base personnel, dependents and retirees to dine. Dorm Airmen can use their common access cards while other customers may pay by cash or debit card.
“Since 2016, the installation commander has allowed everyone to eat at the DFAC,” said Super. “It has opened up our doors to the entire installation.”
The DFAC is open Monday to Friday for breakfast 6-9 a.m., lunch 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and dinner 4:30-6:30 p.m. During the weekends and holidays, they are open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.