News: Diverse food service team shares passion during exercise
Story by Sgt. Laura Bonano
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. - Approximately 20 food service personnel from the 390th Seaport Operations Company, the 301st Military Police Company, the 302nd Transportation Company and the 743rd Seaport Operations Company have joined forces to prepare their first dinner meal July 28 for service members participating in the SPOC Train 13-2 exercise here.
Sgt. 1st Class Ferris Scott, with the 941st Transportation Company out of North Charleston, S.C., is the food service non-commissioned officer in charge of the food service staff during the exercise. He has made it his number-one goal to ensure supplies are stocked and ready to feed all the service members during their training. He also ensures the food preparation runs smoothly.
“My biggest challenge, let’s say for the next three days, is to have a true head count,” said Scott. “That way I know how to order my food. And once I get a good handle on that, everything else is history.”
There are more than 500 service members from more than 16 units expected to be participating in the exercise, which focuses on ocean terminal operations and cargo transportation training along with force protection measures.
Scott is prepared to tackle the task of feeding service members by simply going by the numbers.
“Mainly, everything is based on a 21-day menu, and all meals are based on 100 servings,” said Scott. As a mathematician would contemplate an equation, Scott breaks down how many pounds of meat he will need based on the number of people he knows he has to serve.
Scott has the added bonus of being able to buy produce and other food through local purchase. This means he can go directly to the commissary on post to order and pick up fresh groceries.
At the other end of the numbers game, Sgt. Iris Williams, a food service non-commissioned officer with the 390th SPOC, plans to face the challenge of feeding the large number of people a little differently. Williams, a native of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and the first cook for the crew, puts up posters and plays salsa music in the dining hall.
The radio blasts rhythmic drumbeats as the other cooks dance and sway while they prepare the evening meal in the kitchen.
“Music tames the beast,” said Williams. “We are here to aid in the accomplishment of the mission, and after a hard day’s work, sitting down to a good meal can do that. Good food equals better soldiers … so they can gain knowledge from the training.”
Williams also created colorful posters herself and displays them for service members to read as they wait in line for dinner. The posters educate on healthy food choices and the importance of taking care of the body through drinking enough water.
Williams said it isn’t hard working with people from different units because some of them have had the opportunity to work together before.
“Our communication is excellent,” she said.
Williams said the crew’s passion for cooking is what makes them succeed at their work. She said as long as people understand their purpose, they will have passion.
Scott isn’t all about the numbers and portions when it comes to his job. He plans to let the units prepare versions of their own local foods, as the crew consists of people from all over the world, such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, as well as Virginia.
“To tell you the truth, I like my job because I can be creative,” said Scott. “And when I get in the kitchen, it’s just like when I get on a tractor trailer back home; I can drive all day long. I never get tired.”
As service members wait in line for dinner service in the dining hall, they occasionally can’t help but dance along to the music and eagerly await the first of many meals to come for the training days ahead.