by 1st Lt. Gina Vaccaro McKeen
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs 

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.

August 2013 Update:

by Senior Airman Jamie Jaggers
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

6/20/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- An Air Force food initiative was recently selected top in its class by a civilian association, as it progresses into its second phase of deployment.

The National Restaurant Association recently held its second annual "Operator Innovations Awards," judged by a panel of 11 leading food industry operators.

Out of five distinct categories, including food safety, health and nutrition, menu development, sustainability and technology, the Air Force took the top honors in the health and nutrition category for its Food Transformation Initiative, or FTI.

"Air Force food service personnel are feeding the force of freedom around the globe and health and nutrition is mission critical to sustain the force," said Jim Krueger, the chief of Air Force Food & Beverage Business Development.

The Air Force was chosen amongst other well-known industry leaders. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, with restaurants serving up to 3,000 lunches daily, won for technology; and Ninety Nine Restaurants, serving more than 2 million customers per year in 100 locations, took first in food safety.

"Walt Disney and the U. S. Air Force sharing the same stage is really, really cool," said Col. Tom Joyce, the director of Services at Air Force Personnel Center.

FTI began as a pilot program on six installations to provide Airmen healthy choices.

"This industry wide recognition validates FTI as revolutionizing Air Force Food Service by providing new healthy selections, improved cooking methods, expanded meal availability, and creative merchandising to guide customers toward healthier choices," said Fred McKenney, the chief of Air Force Food and Beverage.

The second phase of FTI is underway at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Beale AFB, Calif.; and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Throughout 2013, these bases will renovate their dining facilities to convert them from an institutional-style feeding platform to station feeding found on most college campuses.