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380AEW Article

Agile Combat Support: Providing food for the warfighter

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Melissa Harvey
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

Airmen, Department of Defense civilians, coalition partners, and contractors all have at least one thing in common-the need to eat.

The 380th Air Expeditionary Force Support Squadron oversees all three dining facilities at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, ensuring more than 6000 meals are served to warfighters daily, so they get the fuel they need all day, every day.

Staff Sgt. Allison Bekaert, 380 EFSS food service production manager at Windy’s Dining Facility, arrives before five in the morning, to ensure workers can start prepping food and filling the line in time for customers who want a hot breakfast.

The meal to be served has been planned long before the day it is served on.

 “We plan and coordinate our menus in advance to ensure that there is enough lead time to order and obtain food from our local and contract vendors,” she said.

While the menus are made a month in advance, changes can occur daily because sometimes items, like produce don’t come in, Bekaert explained.  Menus are given to the chef on a weekly basis, who advises if things need to be changed.

As patrons enter the DFAC, they scan or sign in on an Air Force Form 79, which helps to keep track of personnel fed, and ultimately assists services in ordering food.

When COVID-19 hit, the dining facilities were tasked with carrying out additional measures, such as making sure patrons are wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing their hands, and using hand sanitizer, to ensure the health and safety of their patrons.

In addition to providing meals for dine-in or carry-out, services personnel also work to ensure all people on ADAB have access to drinking water.

“We have personnel that work with contractors to order all the bottled water for the 100 plus drop off points throughout ADAB,” Bekaert said.

The team at food services, along with the contractors, serve hot meals, restock drinks and snacks fulfill a much needed roll, but understand there is always room for improvement.

Master Sgt. April Pham, 380 EFSS food service section chief, gives an example of how noncommissioned officers, who serve as DFAC managers, want to improve services to their patrons.

“They’re the backbone of the operations,” she said. “We have a very good team of NCOs, they are always looking for ways to improve our service. For example, Windy’s Dining Facility Manager, Tech. Sgt. Leigh Pears, introduced the potato bar for last Wednesday’s lunch and it’s going to be on Windy’s lunch menu every other Wednesday.” 

In addition to adding new food options, managers want to hear from their patrons.

“We have to provide customer service, care for them, make sure they are getting the food they need,” Bekaert said. “That’s part of the reason we have comment cards to ensure they are getting what they want. We provide the quality of life and service for our Airmen, so that they feel welcomed and are glad to be here.”

ADAB members can provide feedback at