Food Summit looks to future of 27+ DAF stateside dining operations

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

VIDEO | 01:40 | 2023 Food 2.0 Owners Summit
DALLAS – More than 70 installation, Air Force Services Center and industry culinary experts gathered here April 11-13 to discuss current and future Food 2.0 dining operations with a goal of delivering better, faster menu options to patrons.  

With the Food 2.0 Owners Summit held in an innovative kitchen environment, attendees also had the opportunity to see demonstrations of state-of-the-art culinary equipment and taste food prepared by seasoned chefs using various cooking methods. 

Food 2.0 is a part of the AFSVC’s Healthy Food Initiative, which delivers improved, healthier food options for Airmen, Guardians and any other patrons who can access an installation, said Jim Krueger, AFSVC’s Department of the Air Force Food and Beverage Division chief. 

“We modernize dining facilities and upgrade food options to deliver tasty food when, where and how Airmen and Guardians need it,” added Jim Gill, AFSVC chief of Food 2.0 portfolio management.  

This includes “finish in front” service stations like personalized pizza and deli stations, innovative technology to prepare menu items fast and fresh while patrons wait, and robust stations like breakfast yogurt bars, salad bars, and “grab & go” meals and snacks. 

The DAF has 43 Food 2.0 locations at 27 installations, and the next roll-out is Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona, this summer. Additionally, the food team is in the planning stages to potentially convert another seven installations to Food 2.0 operations.

One summit attendee, Capt. Lily Dollarhide, is the 5th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight commander at Minot AFB, North Dakota. The captain said her customers appreciate the wide array of foods and speed of service that Food 2.0 provides. 

“It delivers a lot of variety for our customers, so they can get anything from fish and shrimp to baked potatoes, vegetarian and vegan options in a location that’s pretty remote,” Dollarhide said. “A lot of our Airmen are working in the field (and) they’re working in the cold, so that variety of eating somewhere for three meals a day with something different every time is huge. 

“Just this morning, we received a comment on our Interactive Customer Evaluation system that said, ‘the chicken shawarma is the best that I’ve had in multiple years, and I just love the variety and speed of service in the dining facility,’ so that’s something. In North Dakota, you’re not going to find much chicken shawarma and at a faster pace,” she said. 

Additionally, unlike legacy dining facility operations where the facilities are closed between traditional breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight meals, Food 2.0 facilities are open 96 hours a week including between meals.  

“The hours are a big deal,” Gill said. “If an Airman can’t make it in for breakfast or the lunch meal, for example, he can come in between meals or grab a ‘Simply to go’ meal at any time throughout the day with Food 2.0.” 

Not willing to rest on their accomplishments, the AFSVC food and beverage teams plans to expand the program with new installations and innovate at installations already operating with 2.0.  

“Right now, we’re going through a pilot program at Barksdale AFB (Louisiana) where we’ve been weighing salads and to this point, it’s been very successful. Customers seem to like it and it has a better effect on our cost of goods at the DFAC,” Gill said. 

The team is currently working funding and plan to roll salad scales out to every Food 2.0 operation in the future. 

Gill and his team also have a pilot program underway at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, for reusable takeout containers.  

“Every year, we spend thousands of dollars on disposable carryout containers. They’re not only expensive but they’re bad for the environment as well,” Gill said. 

If the six-month trial continues to be successful, “we plan to roll that program out to the other installations as well,” he said.  

In addition to nutritious, tasty options for patrons in the front of DFACs, Food 2.0 delivers advanced culinary training for military and civilian food service professionals in the back of DFACs with an executive chef at each location, provided by industry partners Aramark or Sodexo. 

“One of the things I appreciate as a chief master sergeant is that these Food 2.0 platforms are also warfighting platforms for our services Airmen to get the critical culinary skills they need to help us project air power in the field. That means when they go down range, they know how to produce quality meals for our Airmen in the field,” said Chief Master Sgt. Learie Gaitan, AFSVC senior enlisted leader. 

Outside of the DFAC, Airmen and Guardians can also take advantage of campus dining at nonappropriated fund locations at various installations. This includes places like bowling centers, golf courses and clubs. 

“In many cases, our NAF food service activities struggle to maintain solvency,” said Brian DeCamp, AFSVC chief of NAF food and beverage. “With Food 2.0 campus dining, our patrons and NAF facilities are benefiting from the flexibility the program provides.” 

“The Department of the Air Force is known for air superiority, but our number one asset is not our planes, not our bombs, not our missiles … it’s our Airmen and Guardians,” Gaitan said “So when it comes to fueling the force, the food our Airmen and Guardians eat every day is critical to how we’re able to project air power for our nation. 

“With Food 2.0, we’ve raised our game and when you go to a Food 2.0 location across the continental United States, you’ll see our Airmen creating healthy, nutritious meals for our warfighters of all branches of service,” the chief added.