Food that fuels the force

Written by: Airman 1st Class Alexander Nottingham, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth C. McGhee, 91st Missile Wing commander, greets 5th Force Support Squadron Airmen at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Jan. 30, 2023. Airmen assigned to the services career field maintain and operate hotels, restaurants and fitness centers through the Air Force. U.S. Air Force photo I Airman 1st Class Alexander Nottingham

Team Minot’s Missile Alert Feeding Operation (MAFO) team has been selected as one of two finalists for the 2023 John L. Hennessy Award, a commendation that highlights outstanding achievement in the food service career field. Earlier this week, evaluators from the Hennessy Travelers Association observed Team Minot’s MAFO team for two days in their quest to determine a winner: Team Minot or F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

“The Hennessy Award competition allows us to show the evaluation team what we do day in and day out, and to be recognized for that hard work,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Morgan Fellicia, 5th Force Support Squadron intercontinental ballistic missile feeding operations manager.

The annual competition brings together the HTA’s team of traveling advisors and evaluators, recognized leaders in the civilian food service industry, and Air Force food service personnel to recognize excellence and offer mentorship to Airmen in the food service career field.

Missile Alert Facilities (MAFs) are the heart of the 91st Missile Wing mission, which includes monitoring and maintaining 150 ICBM Minuteman missiles dispersed over an area of approximately 8,500 square miles surrounding Minot AFB. The wing is composed of three squadrons, each responsible for up to 50 missiles. This 24/7 responsibility requires Airmen to be always alert and always ready. It is the goal of the MAFO team to ensure every Airman deployed to a MAF is well fed and can continue to accomplish their mission.

The MAFO team’s mission doesn’t start at the remote MAF, but on Minot AFB where food service Airmen pack rations to be delivered quickly to the missile sites around Minot, some of which are as far as 75 miles away. The goal is for each site to never run out of supplies and continue to service the Airmen deployed there. These supplies are hand delivered to the on-site chef twice each week to ensure they have everything necessary to feed the ten to twenty missileers, security forces Airmen, and other facility personnel during their deployment to that site.

A chef is deployed to each missile site to stay with the crew for the full deployment of at least one week. They are responsible for all made-to-order meals. MAFO chefs cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for 10 to 20 Airmen every day.

“We trip out on a Thursday and start work right away in the kitchen, from cleaning, administrative tasks, stocking, sales, and cooking, “ said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lindsey Gonzalez, 5th Force Support Squadron ICBM food service specialist. “It’s a non-stop, high intensity job from 5 a.m. till 6 p.m.”

MAF sites can be a more challenging environment than traditional food service work centers due to the austere environment and adverse weather Airmen deployed there face. Regardless of blizzards causing road closures or low visibility making travel dangerous, Airmen need to be fed, and nothing can stop the 5th FSS from achieving that goal.

“Roads covered in snow and ice were impossible to travel and we had to deploy a chef with as much rations as we could fit on a helicopter to the facility during the latest snow storm,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kaidy Lundquist, 5th FSS noncommissioned officer in charge of ICBM feeding operations.

Team Minot continues to ensure MAFs are staffed with talented Airmen, and those Airmen deserve the best food. That’s why the best cooks come North.

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