News: Service members, third country nationals come together at Oasis dining facility
Story by Spc. Lisa A. Cope
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Every day Oasis dining facility at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, serves roughly 18,000 to 20,000 meals to the service members and civilians here.
From the warehouse and storage facilities to the kitchen and dining room, countless hands come together for each meal.
Sgt. Ronald O. Kirby, a food service non-commissioned officer with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), works in the Oasis DFAC.
Kirby, an Atlanta native, said he and his Soldiers escort the trucks that deliver the supplies from the gates and inspect the cargo to ensure the quality and accuracy of the shipment.
At any given time, the warehouse contains roughly 200 to 300 pallets of supplies, and roughly $1 million of supplies rotate through the warehouse each month, Kirby said.
Kirby said the management of the warehouse is one of the most important factors in efficiently operating a DFAC.
"If you have poor management of your warehouse, basically it is just like running a restaurant, your not going to be in business long, because you have to be able to manage your products," said Kirby.
Spc. Danielle Marsha, a food service specialist with the 514th Maintenance Company out of Fort Drum, N.Y., works in the kitchen with the third country nationals at Oasis.
"We have several jobs," said Marsha, a Columbia, Md., native. "The main job that I do is, I am in the kitchen, and I monitor all the TCNs. I make sure they are following proper procedures."
Soldiers in the kitchen ensure that workers meet all safety and sanitary requirements as well as follow the recipe cards that are distributed by the Army Food Management Information System, she said.
Marsha said she enjoys the opportunity to encounter other cultures.
"It means a lot to me to be working here with different people and different cultures," said Marsha. "I learn from them, and they learn from us, so it is a very good experience."
Courtney M. Grimes, a quality assurance evaluator with the 514th Maint. Co. and an Atlanta native, said she ensures service members and civilians meet the standard.
"My job (is) to make sure that the Soldiers, contractors, TCNs, whoever comes through that door, has the proper credentials to eat in the DFAC," said Grimes.
This includes ensuring Soldiers carry their weapon, everyone has the correct identification, no bags or unauthorized items are brought into the DFAC, that no one takes out too many items, she said.
For any given meal, roughly 4,000 to 7,000 people come through the DFAC, Grimes said.
She said she typically sees roughly 1,000 to 1,500 more people at the lunch and dinner meals than breakfast or midnight meals.
The correct head count ensures the proper amount of food is cooked, Grimes said.
"At the end of the meal, we have to store the food, or properly dispose of the food, but you would rather have too much than have too little," said Grimes. "If you have too little, that is taking away from somebody's meal."