Colorado Air National Guard Airmen at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, home to multiple no-fail missions, are making every effort to minimize mission critical members’ exposure to COVID-19.
Since the end of March 2020, members of the 140th Wing’s Force Support Squadron have been providing one of the most basic needs to those essential members: food.
The 460th Space Wing commander asked the 140th FSS to provide four meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack) for a minimum of 60 days, for more than 90 Team Buckley Airmen who needed to minimize their exposure to the community, 140 FSS Services Supervisor U.S Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brian Ford said.
Thus, the COVID Café, named by members of the 140th Wing, was born.
Ford normally oversees the serving area in the dining facility during drill weekends, but is now the supervisor of the COVID-19 feeding mission.
His team’s first priority is staying healthy.
“We practice social distancing by dividing our team into two 5-person shifts, and we take every team member’s and customer’s temperatures daily,” Ford said. “Our cooking and serving areas are sanitized three times a day, and of course we all wear gloves and masks while preparing and serving the food, which is put into to-go boxes.”
Unlike normal dining facility operations, the food is not served buffet style, but rather ordered in advance and picked up by pre-designated individuals for delivery, 140 FSS Base Services Manager U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Denver Stack said.
“The safety and health of all are very important and we designed a process that takes maximum precaution to ensure our members and those we are serving will remain healthy and able to do their mission,” Stack said.
Despite working under such unique conditions, members of the COVID Café are in good spirits and work well together, Stack said.
“They are proud to be able to provide a very important service to our Team Buckley counterparts during these unprecedented times,” he said.
Ford and his team said they know that since their customers cannot go to the grocery store or order take-out from restaurants, the quality and variety of the meals they provide are very important.
“Due to the limited food options provided by our vendors, because of their limited stock right now, we have to be creative with the food in order to make a variety of different meals,” Ford said. “Our goal is to provide the best customer service and most delicious meals possible.”
The feedback from COVID Café customers has been overwhelmingly positive, Stack said.
“I am so proud of our team and everyone involved to help provide such an important service so that Team Buckley can continue their incredibly important missions.”