21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Four 25-pound turkeys, four 15-pound hams, 70 pounds of mashed potatoes with gravy, three boxes of cornbread dressing, green beans with mushrooms, steamed corn, peas, glazed carrots, a salad bar, French onion soup and five different desserts, to include pumpkin pie, are on the menu this Thanksgiving.
For Thanksgiving next week, the Aragon Dining Facility staff is laying the groundwork for the annual meal by getting an early start on preparations.
The Air Force Services Agency has production logs that show a food’s popularity from past Thanksgivings that tell the DFAC staff what they should be serving that day, said Airman 1st Class Jennell Orsik, 21st Force Support Squadron store room manager.
The Aragon averages only 50-100 people on Thanksgiving because Airmen are encouraged to spend the holiday with their friends and family.
There are Airmen who are unable to make it home for the holidays though and end up staying on base, but at least they are provided a holiday meal, said Orsik.
“It still makes them feel like they can be with family because management as well as members of the wing staff help to make it feel homey when airmen can’t go home to be with their families,” said Airman 1st Class Ashley Hale, 21st FSS cook.
The night before Thanksgiving, two civilian chefs, Ron Syska and Beverley Enoch, come in to prepare and cook the turkeys.
“They have to stay overnight because the turkeys can’t be cooked unattended,” said Orsik.
After all of the food and supplies have been ordered, the staff decorates the Aragon to put everyone in the holiday spirit. But there is still a lot of work to do.
The morning shift reports to work at 4:30 a.m. to get a start on lunch by preparing the various side dishes for that day’s meal. They also serve a regular breakfast for Airmen from 7 — 8 a.m. The Thanksgiving meal is served from 11 a.m. — 1 p.m.
The serving staff for lunch will be assisted by leadership, led by Col. Douglas Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st SW command chief.
They, among others, will help serve the holiday meal.
While they will only stay for a portion of the lunch, their interaction helps to boost the spirit and morale of the Airmen, said Orsik.
The staff helps leadership by cooking and bringing out more food to serve so that everyone has a fresh meal,” said Airman Faith Aviles, 21st FSS cook.
After lunch the staff cleans up in preparation for the second shift, said Aviles.
Both shifts work eight hours, with the morning shift working 4:30 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. and the afternoon shift from 10:15 a.m. — 7:15 p.m.
Although they have their own cleaning schedule, the shifts help each other to make sure that the work is done on time. They work through breaks or when the dining crowd has dwindled, so they don’t have to work extra hours.
“It’s a great time for putting more food out and cleaning. That way everyone will have a clean and healthy environment,” said Aviles.
After lunch the second shift takes over and the process for providing another Thanksgiving meal begins for the 5 — 7 p.m. dinner.