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The Independence Dining Facility re-opens

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderson
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The Independence Dining Facility opens its doors for business on Oct. 1, 2019 after being shut down for two months to address maintenance concerns involving pests.

During the closure, members of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron Public Health element, played a vital role in ensuring all issues in the facility that led to the closure, were addressed by the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron and the 379th Civil Engineer Squadron. The facility is ready for normal operations.

“When major issues such as this come along, different teams from different units and specialties come together for one common cause,” said Master Sgt. Savannah Key, 379th EMDOS aerospace medicine flight chief.  “We had teams from the 379th EMDOS, ECES, EFSS, Expeditionary Contracting Squadron, and [civilian contractors] come together to rehabilitate the facility and that is so special.”
While re-opening the Independence DFAC was a joint effort by all the units, Public Health ultimately identified maintenance concerns and oversaw the progress by the units to ensure they were in line with health and safety standards necessary to re-open.

 “Public Health tracked weekly repairs and cleaning of the DFAC and provided required fixes to the 379th EFSS and the 379th ECES before food was allowed back into the facility,” said Capt Clay Whiddon, 379th EMDOS public health element chief.

The teams worked assiduously for weeks to improve the degraded conditions of the facility.

“During the week leading up to the re-opening, Public Health helped the 379th EFSS test and clean the equipment, clean the facility to food service standards in order to prevent contamination during preparation and service,” said Whiddon.

In addition to correcting maintenance issues, the Public Health team conducted a pre-operational inspection to rate the facility in accordance with Air Force Manual 48-147, Tri-Service Food Code, which establishes compliance-level ratings to determine if a food service facility is safe for food operations.

“The facility has made major improvements in every area,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Duncan, 379th EMDOS, community health non-commissioned officer in charge.

The inspection evaluated everything from facility manager knowledge and employee health, to food operation, facility repair, food defense, equipment validation and cleanliness.

The Public Health team signed-off, approving the facility to re-open and certifying it meets all food, health and safety standards.

“A lot of work and dedication went into ensuring this facility is ready to serve you safely,” said Key.

The Airmen behind the scenes take great pride and feel a sense of accomplishment in all the work that went in to getting the dining facility running again.

“The most rewarding thing about working to re-open the Indy DFAC was the look of accomplishment on the faces of the FSS crew,” said Key.  “They worked extremely hard to clean and correct discrepancies throughout the facility, and they put in so much [time and effort into making things right]. To see them all so happy was the best part for me.”

While the facility is now open, Public Health and the 379th ECES will continue to ensure the facility meets health and sanitation standards by conducting inspections and preventative maintenance at least monthly.

“There are extremely dedicated individuals within the facility that are determined to prevent this from happening again,” said Key.

“[Your] feedback is vital to creating a healthier sanitary environment,” said Staff Sgt. Adrian Cazares-Chavez, 379th EMDOS, force health non-commissioned officer in charge.

If you see something out of place or discover an issue at any of the food service facilities across the installation. The team encourages you to vocalize your concerns, through the facility staff or by attending the Food Advisory Board meeting the first Tuesday of every month.

“Your health is our priority, so if you see something, say something to us. We will listen and follow-through,” said Key.