|New AF Dining Program Opens Doors For Retirees|
by 1st Lt. Gina Vaccaro McKeen
RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFRNS) – Thanks to the Air Force’s Food Transformation Initiative, retirees at six bases will soon be able to use military food service establishments previously reserved for active-duty Airmen.
Retirees will pay the same market price as everyone else, and there will not be an added surcharge on top of the menu price.
The six Air Force bases participating in the initiative are Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, Patrick AFB, Fla., MacDill AFB, Fla., Fairchild AFB, Wash., Little Rock AFB, Ark., and Travis AFB, Calif.
This pilot program not only opens food establishments to all members of the base community, but customers will also see changes to food and beverage options, resulting in greater quality and variety, said Air Force Services Agency officials.
Diners will see an overall increase in the variety and availability of healthy menu options on base.
With FTI, the Air Force is changing the way it delivers food in order to meet the needs of today's Airmen. For the past 60 years, the Air Force has been feeding Airmen based on a much larger, more stationary force. With the transition to a smaller, expeditionary force, Air Force leaders are looking to make dining programs more flexible, available, and efficient.
"FTI is about Airmen and for Airmen," said Brian Floyd, the deputy director of the force support squadron at Travis Air Force Base, one of the pilot bases for this initiative. "We have heard loud and clear what our Airmen want, and FTI is all about offering them better quality food, more variety and a sense of community when dining."
FTI will reinvigorate Air Force dining by hiring a contractor to transition to hybrid facilities on bases that will be open to the entire base populace, much like common business and university campuses, services officials said.
Many base dining facilities have use rates of less than 50 percent. Instead of closing these facilities, Air Force plans call for transforming operations. This transformation will preserve the mission of providing meals to Airmen and bringing positive changes to the way Airmen are fed on base, services agency officials said.
While services officials are excited about the forthcoming changes, they emphasized things will not happen immediately and that each base will be different. The first phase of the program is about improving menu options, they said, and the total transformation will take time.
Opening the transformed dining venues to retirees and base employees will restore a sense of community because everyone will be able to eat together, Mr. Floyd said.
"Now all of these groups of people will be able to share quality food in a family type of atmosphere at the dining hall as well as at other food venues on base," he explained.