By Hayden Froehlich
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
It’s a place not often thought of as a cornerstone of a well-built, effective military. It’s a place where comradery is bolstered, bonds are formed and the weary are given respite. This place is the dining facility (DFAC).
The Barksdale Air Force Base Red River Dining Facility is run by the 2nd Force Support Squadron, who are tasked with providing for several aspects of Airmen’s health and well-being, including food, fitness, lodging and mortuary services.
“We have a saying in the service from cradle to grave,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Noe, 2nd FSS food service supervisor. “We take care of Airmen through everything from birth to death.”
According to Staff Sgt. Nickolas Green, 2nd FSS food service accountant for the dining facility, they feed around 800 people, which is about 200 to 300 each meal period, from breakfast to their midnight meal. They serve a wide variety of customers including Airmen on meal plans, dependents, civilians and retirees.
“There are some who have been around since before I got to Barksdale who still come in almost every day,” Noe said. “We also have our regular Airmen who come in every day because this is one of the best places they can use their meal cards to eat.”
These Airmen serve fellow comrades both here on base and abroad. According to Noe, Airmen in the FSS are the seventh most deployed career field. As new basic expeditionary airfield resource (BEAR) bases open overseas, service members are dispatched to continue supporting Airmen’s needs.
“Those deployments are pretty tough,” Noe said. “Lately we’ve had a lot of BEAR bases opening, so we’ve had people deploying to austere locations. When we take care of our guys overseas, I feel like the comradery and teamwork is deeper. You’re supporting a mission directly. When you don’t have the option to go off base to eat, we’re much more appreciated.”
After deployments, both the Airmen of the FSS and those they served discovered how truly important these dining halls were.
“With food, a lot of Airmen don’t see how important it is until you deploy and go down range and all you have is the DFAC,” Green continued. “Here we get a little overshadowed but overseas you don’t have the convenience of fast food.”
The 2nd FSS is continually working to make sure they provide top-notch service and food.
“We have a team talk huddle before every meal and we’re always doing customer service training,” Noe said. “It’s something we can always be better at.”
These efforts include bringing Chick-fil-a hospitality staff on base to observe and make recommendations and engaging in Sodexo’s Five Star rating program.
“Each star in Sodexo’s program stands for different aspects of culinary service,” Green said. “This month our team received a full five-star rating.”
The cooking staff receive multiple training opportunities, such as an advanced culinary skills course and an arrangement with a local casino where two airmen are sent to shadow the chef and pick up fresh culinary techniques.
The 2nd FSS makes an effort to connect with and support Airmen families as well.
“Last month we hosted a limbo competition and our customers came up and participated,” Green said. “They have a game night coming up this month. We’re putting it on for family members and their kids. We look forward to setting up a movie and board games to improve morale and bring people together.”
Whether it’s serving Airmen and their families here on base or deploying to far off corners of the world to support the Air Force global mission, the 2nd FSS is happy to serve every need from cradle to grave.