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Fit to Feed: 446th FSS preps expeditionary kitchen

Airmen talk inside field kitchen after setting it up.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Terry, 446th Force Support Squadron (FSS) fitness noncommissioned officer in charge, instructs FSS Reserve Citizen Airmen on how to operate an airtronic burner during the Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) training exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 13, 2020. The SPEK, a tent-based field kitchen, provides 550 Airmen with three hot daily meals. Powered by its own diesel generator, the SPEK requires no external utility support and can be set up in nearly any climate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Airmen hoist up a field kitchen.

Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 446th Force Support Squadron hoist up a Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) during training on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 13, 2020. The four-hour exercise tested the speed and efficiency of the Air Force Reservists to set up and tear down the tent-based field kitchen that can provide 550 Airmen with three hot daily meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Airmen assembly a plastic tray cart as part of setting up a field kitchen.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kanphirom Kananin, 446th Force Support Squadron (FSS) fitness program manager, right, assists Senior Airman Precious Mathews, 446th FSS food services technician, with the assembly of a plastic tray cart during the Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) training exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 13, 2020. Services sustainment Reserve Citizen Airmen perform SPEK training to prepare them for deployed, austere locations where they provide three daily meals for up to 550 Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

At 7 a.m. sharp, with hard hats and gloves, 18 Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 446th Force Support Squadron tested their capability to set up an expeditionary kitchen during a training exercise here, August 13.

Master Sgt. Anthony L. Terry, the 446th Force Support Squadron fitness noncommissioned officer in Charge, summoned the troops to quicken their pace. He stomped his feet.

“C’mon you have about 500 hungry soldiers ready to eat by 12,” Terry said. “They want their marble cake.”

The exercise tested the speed and efficiency of Airmen to set up the Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen, Terry said.

“I’m getting the Airmen in the mind frame of a deployed setting,” he said.

Whenever FSS Reserve Citizen Airmen deploy the SPEK can follow.

The SPEK, a tent-based field kitchen, provides 550 Airmen with three hot daily meals. Powered by its own diesel generator, the SPEK requires no external utility support and can be set up in nearly any climate. In three hours or less, five Airmen can set up a SPEK.

Using water boiling stations, the meals or Unitized Group Rations - Heat and Serve, are warmed and served in an average of 45 minutes. The UGR H&S rations are shelf stable and do not require refrigeration.

Master Sgt. Anita L. Barnes, the 446th FSS sustainment services chief, has spent 37 years in the career field and she knows the power of food.

“It’s amazing what food can do for the morale of the camp,” Barnes said. “We (FSS) are your best friend. They see how important our job is.”

As for the meals, there is one UGR which brings Airmen back for seconds.

“The fan favorite is definitely the spaghetti,” Barnes said. “How about you Sergeant Terry what do you like?”

Terry said, “I really like the lemon pepper chicken and rice. For dessert the marble cake.”

During the exercise, every Reservist played a part. The orchestrated team effort included Reserve Citizen Airmen hoisting up the tent and placing plastic floor boards which fit into place like a jigsaw puzzle.

For Senior Airman Arielle Ganchala, a fitness technician with the 446th FSS, setting up a SPEK is more than a standard exercise, it is a lesson in building team cohesion.

“I like the fact we get to partake in physical labor and you get your hands dirty,” Ganchala said. “We are bonding and working together.”

This is the third time Ganchala has set up a SPEK. In her recent deployment to Southwest Asia, her training taught her feeding Airmen is vital to the mission.

“You have to work in a fast-paced environment,” she said. “It is a lot of service before self. We are focused on providing excellent customer service. Even if you aren’t having a great day, you need to be positive and put on a smile, because we help build the morale of deployers.”