Military's largest chow hall - here!
ARCENT (3rd Army) News
Release Date: 7/22/2003
Story by Staff Sgt. Nate Orme 3rd Personnel Command
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (July 22, 2003)- When Operation Iraqi Freedom began, the chow hall was serving 43,000 personnel a day in the 1,200-seat dining facility, said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Clark, the dining facility (DFAC) non-commissioned officer-in-charge, who is with the 249th Quartermaster Company, Fort Bragg, N.C.
To handle the extra load, the DFAC added extra serving lines and extended its hours for meals.
The DFAC is staffed by Army food service specialists and third-country nationals (TCNs) hired by Brown and Root Services, a military contractor that supplies a variety of services on base. Interestingly, because of contracting arrangements with the Kuwaiti government, it is the TCNs who do most of the cooking, with the Army cooks working in a surveillance role, monitoring for proper safety and security in food handling, Clark said.
The DFAC runs six lines serving food; it has four salad bars, numerous drink distribution points and several ice cream freezers. Food is served on plastic plates with plastic-ware, easing the need for cleaning.
"The day after the war started, we served 15,000 for each of lunch and dinner; 8,000 for breakfast; and 5,000 for the midnight meal," Clark said. "The TCNs were not allowed on to the camp during the war for three to four days at the start of the war, so our military cooks cooked in Mission Oriented Protective Posture Level 2." Level 2 requires the donning of the heavy bio-suit, but without the protective mask or gloves, which are donned in Level 4.
According to Clark, many food service experts in the military have said the Zone 2 chow hall on Camp Arifjan is the largest in the military by far. Staff there still continues to feed 4-5,000 personnel per lunch and dinner meal. It is also the largest dining facility in seating capacity, at 1200, Clark said.
Some of the load has been taken off of the DFAC since the Zone 1 chow hall opened in May. Also in May, the chow hall air conditioning was installed, in time for the blistering summertime heat in Kuwait, where temperatures routinely reach 120 degrees or more.
"The a.c. brought back a lot of our customers, who were going over to the new Zone 1 DFAC. Before the a.c., it may have been 110 degrees outside, but it seemed like 150 in here," Clark said.
Since most of the cooking is handled by TCNs, Clark's main duties are to make sure his military personnel are staying occupied with proper oversight procedures. He also fields any complaints that may come his way.
"I work hand-in-hand with Brown and Root," Clark said. "I deal with soldier issues; lots of times I get complaints that I take back to Brown and Root and we discuss them over and work on a solution."
Sgt. 1st Class Alton Smith, a food service specialist with the 3rd Personnel Command, works in a senior monitor capacity at the DFAC. "We monitor the TCN personnel to make sure Army sanitation standards are followed," Smith said. "The TCNs prepare their food differently then how we prepare ours. The challenge is to make sure they follow our standards."
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