News: Coalition Air Force Training Team Airmen improve public health program, Dining Facility for Iraqi Air Force
Story by Senior Airman Jessica Lockoski
With the opening of a new Iraqi dining facility, featuring menu selections like kebabs, samoon-a flat bread-and baklava, the ability to prepare food safely is paramount.
The Iraqi air force opened a new DFAC, with its greatly expanded food service capability, and served its first meal, May 5, thanks in great part to the Coalition Air Force Training Team advisors assigned to the 521st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron here.
Food not properly prepared can cause life-threatening illnesses and infections. To fight that threat, Airmen here are providing a stronger public health system for Iraqi airmen by training them to perform food service facility inspections.
Master Sgt. Amy Swanger, an independent duty medical technician for the Coalition Air Force Training Team, recognized there wasn't a program in place for Iraqis to conduct food service inspections.
Because of the Iraqi airmen's inexperience in public health standards, the State College, Pa., native, deployed from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, knew the public health standards needed to be enforced.
"Because these guys don't have any training on food service facility inspections, they were missing a lot of things," she said, referring to food preparation regulations. "They knew little about what they were looking at; they didn't know what kinds of questions to ask."
Sgt. Swanger said she took essential items from the U.S. Food Code, which is what Air Force Public Health offices use when inspecting U.S. and AAFES food service facilities, removed culturally sensitive material, and created a training program for the Airmen.
At the old Iraqi air force dining facility, she showed Iraqi medical technicians how to recognize problems that occurred in food management.
"I would have them show me what's wrong there; what's wrong with the bags of rice being stored and what to look for while inspecting canned goods," she said. "We went step-by-step using the new critical food list."
Sgt. Swanger partnered with a 506th Expeditionary Medical Squadron public health official to allow the Iraqi medical technicians into the kitchens of AAFES food facilities for on-the-job training.
"This training gives them a visual point of reference for what a facility is supposed to look like," she said.
Sgt. Swanger reviewed some of the essential procedures in the training environment: safe temperatures for hot and cold food; parts per million for a bleach sanitizing solution; and how food and kitchen equipment should be cleaned and stored.
She said she thinks her training program is a small piece of a much larger picture in public health, but it is essential for the well-being of the Iraqi Air Force. Without the program, a lapse in proper food preparation could yield deadly results.
Sgt. Swanger said people can contract a wide variety food borne illnesses such as hepatitis, typhoid and cholera from food if they aren't careful. "Any kind of fecal, oral and transmittable diseases like salmonella can occur when people aren't properly trained."
Sgt. Swanger said these types of food-borne illnesses have a direct impact on troop strength.
"If you are in a military organization, everyone eats from one food service facility and there's an outbreak of typhoid, you can easily have a lot of people down," she said. "They are no longer able to complete their mission."
She told the Iraqi airmen that three things have saved more human lives and prevented more suffering than antibiotics and surgeries: clean water, clean food and immunizations.
This food program helps with that cause, she said. "In the history of human warfare, more people have died from diseases than combat injuries."
Iraqis can use their new-found knowledge to conduct public health food inspections in a new facility thanks to another Coalition Air Force Training Team Airman, whose work provided a better quality of life for his Iraqi counterparts.
Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sanders, CAFTT logistics advisor, oversaw the planning and construction of a new Iraqi dining facility, which can comfortably seat 260 Airmen, he said.
The new facility has more than four times the seating capacity of their old facility. With a larger kitchen, stocked with major appliances and cooking tools, Iraqis can use the accommodations and their public health food knowledge to prepare their fellow Airmen safe, traditional Iraqi meals.
"This is going to be the most modern Iraqi air force dining facility in the country," he said, adding he's happy that he can see all the hard work the Airmen put into the new facility.
"I look forward to the first shawarma meal served there," he said. Shawarma is a meat, especially beef, chicken, or lamb, that is roasted on a spit and wrapped in pita bread.
The Jacksonville, Fla., native, deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., had no doubt in his mind—despite not being a civil engineer--he could accomplish the task.
"I am from the old school where 'out of my realm' is not in my vocabulary," he said. The sergeant said once a task is started, failure isn't an option. The sergeant said he had help along the way and thinks the project was well worth the work.
This work, Coalition Air Force Training Team Airmen improve public health program, Dining Facility for Iraqi Air Force, by SSgt Jessica Lockoski, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.