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Colorado Air National Guard’s COVID Café sustains mission essential Airmen

Airmen making boxed lunches

U.S. Staff Sgt. Ellie Gustafson, assigned to the 140th Wing civil engineering squadron, has volunteered to assist the services squadron with preparing and passing out meals, whilw Staff Sgt. Shane Materkowski, of the 140th Services Squadron, assists her, and another volunteer from the 233rd Space Warning Squadron Master Sgt. Suzanne Battershell observes. While many members of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, are currently under a stay-at-home order due to the COVID19 virus, there are still a number of essential employees who are keeping the mission going during this unprecedented time in our nation's history.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)

Airmen making boxed lunches

U.S. Staff Sgt. Shane Materkowski, of the 140th Services Squadron, Staff Sgt. Ellie Gustafson, assigned to the 140th Wing civil engineering squadron and Senior Airman Brandon McIntosh of the 140th Logistics Readiness Squadron, work together to prepare the evening meals at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., 7 April, 2020. While many members of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, are currently under a stay-at-home order due to the COVID19 virus, there are still a number of essential employees who are keeping the mission going during this unprecedented time in our nation's history.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Craig Vonholtum, 140th Wing Services Squadron, Colorado Air National Guard prepares the evening meals at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, April 7, 2020. While many members of the COANG’s 140th Wing are observing Gov. Jared Polis’ safer at home order due to the COVID-19 virus, a number of essential employees are keeping the mission going during this unprecedented time in our nation's history. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)

To-go box of food with face mask on it that says COVID Cafe

Members of the 140th Wing, 140th Force Support Squadron, cooking four meals per day to support mission essential Airmen on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, renamed the 140th Wing dining facility “The COVID Café.” The team has been cooking and delivering hot meals to more than 90 Airmen since the end of March 2020, ensuring their exposure to COVID-19 is minimized.

Assembly line of to-go meals

These are the gourmet meals that members of the 140th Wing, 140th Force Support Squadron have been cooking four times per day to support mission essential Airmen on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado. The team has been cooking and delivering hot meals to more than 90 Airmen since the end of March 2020, ensuring their exposure to COVID-19 is minimized.

Assembly line of to-go meals

These are the gourmet meals that members of the 140th Wing, 140th Force Support Squadron have been cooking four times per day to support mission essential Airmen on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado. The team has been cooking and delivering hot meals to more than 90 Airmen since the end of March 2020, ensuring their exposure to COVID-19 is minimized.

Assembly line of to-go meals

These are the gourmet meals that members of the 140th Wing, 140th Force Support Squadron have been cooking four times per day to support mission essential Airmen on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado. The team has been cooking and delivering hot meals to more than 90 Airmen since the end of March 2020, ensuring their exposure to COVID-19 is minimized.

Assembly line of to-go meals

These are the gourmet meals that members of the 140th Wing, 140th Force Support Squadron have been cooking four times per day to support mission essential Airmen on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado. The team has been cooking and delivering hot meals to more than 90 Airmen since the end of March 2020, ensuring their exposure to COVID-19 is minimized.

Assembly line of to-go meals

These are the gourmet meals that members of the 140th Wing, 140th Force Support Squadron have been cooking four times per day to support mission essential Airmen on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado. The team has been cooking and delivering hot meals to more than 90 Airmen since the end of March 2020, ensuring their exposure to COVID-19 is minimized.

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Colorado Air National Guard Airmen at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colorado, home to multiple no-fail missions, are making every effort to minimize mission critical members’ exposure to COVID-19. 

Since the end of March 2020, members of the 140th Wing’s Force Support Squadron have been providing one of the most basic needs to those essential members: food.

The 460th Space Wing commander asked the 140th FSS to provide four meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack) for a minimum of 60 days, for more than 90 Team Buckley Airmen who needed to minimize their exposure to the community, 140 FSS Services Supervisor U.S Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brian Ford said.

Thus, the COVID Café, named by members of the 140th Wing, was born.
 
Ford normally oversees the serving area in the dining facility during drill weekends, but is now the supervisor of the COVID-19 feeding mission. 

His team’s first priority is staying healthy. 

“We practice social distancing by dividing our team into two 5-person shifts, and we take every team member’s and customer’s temperatures daily,” Ford said. “Our cooking and serving areas are sanitized three times a day, and of course we all wear gloves and masks while preparing and serving the food, which is put into to-go boxes.”

Unlike normal dining facility operations, the food is not served buffet style, but rather ordered in advance and picked up by pre-designated individuals for delivery, 140 FSS Base Services Manager U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Denver Stack said. 

“The safety and health of all are very important and we designed a process that takes maximum precaution to ensure our members and those we are serving will remain healthy and able to do their mission,” Stack said.

Despite working under such unique conditions, members of the COVID Café are in good spirits and work well together, Stack said. 

“They are proud to be able to provide a very important service to our Team Buckley counterparts during these unprecedented times,” he said.

Ford and his team said they know that since their customers cannot go to the grocery store or order take-out from restaurants, the quality and variety of the meals they provide are very important. 

“Due to the limited food options provided by our vendors, because of their limited stock right now, we have to be creative with the food in order to make a variety of different meals,” Ford said. “Our goal is to provide the best customer service and most delicious meals possible.”

The feedback from COVID Café customers has been overwhelmingly positive, Stack said. 

“I am so proud of our team and everyone involved to help provide such an important service so that Team Buckley can continue their incredibly important missions.”