McChord’s flight kitchen caters to needs of Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When stomachs start growling in the middle of a night shift, Airmen working on the flightline don't have many meal options to choose from.

That's when the flight kitchen comes to the rescue.

"When you can't go to another area to eat due to mission constraints, that's where we come in," said Tech. Sgt Sarah Butcher, 62nd Services Squadron.

The 62nd SVS flight kitchen staff prepares and serves up on-the-go meals to passengers, aircrews, civilians and ground workers 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

On any given day, the flight kitchen distributes 70 to 80 meals, said Sergeant Butcher.
"Things are normally pretty consistent," she said.

The majority of the kitchen's traffic comes from aircrews and members of the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron and the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Sergeant Butcher said. Civilians are also able to place orders between 1 and 5 a.m.

The kitchen's menu includes 29 different items, including seven breakfast choices and five frozen meals. Sergeant Butcher said the most popular choice is the chicken breast sandwich.

The menu also includes 10 different supplement choices to each entrée, such as applesauce, pudding, chips or pasta salad.

While the flight kitchen staff acknowledges each meal isn't as glamorous as those prepared by famous television chefs, it is something they put care into, said Senior Airman Saul Ortiz, 62nd SVS.

That same care is put into making each batch of potato and pasta salad and accommodating each special request on certain meals, such as diabetic boxes, said Sergeant Butcher.

The kitchen crew also provides flight boxes for Fort Lewis' troops when they come to McChord to fly out.

However, big orders like this are something the kitchen staff likes to start preparing for at least two weeks out, Sergeant Butcher said.

Before the troops even arrive on base, the staff neatly fills a standard box "A," containing a fruit cocktail, nutrition bar, chips, fruit, soda and water for each Soldier.

The only thing they add before handing everything over to fleet services to ship it out to the flightline is a turkey or ham sandwich.

But not all of the preparation in the flight kitchen centers around standard boxed meals.

The flight kitchen is responsible for washing and filling each water and coffee cooler that finds its way out to the flightline.

The flight kitchen will be under extra scrutiny in the coming weeks, as officials from Air Mobility Command will visit McChord to inspect the dining facility, which is competing with Travis Air Force Base, Calif., for the command's Hennessy Award, which is given to the best dining facility.

"We're confident that we are providing a good service," said Master Sgt. Ramon Erpelo, 62nd SVS.

The services squadron is putting most of its emphasis on training personnel and proper food preparation, he said.

"We feel like this is our year -- we're ready," Sergeant Erpelo said.