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Patrick Airmen get first dibs on dining choices

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airman 1st Class Jackie Summers, 45th Comptroller Squadron, gets lunch from Cheri Heywood, Aramark employee, July 7 at Rocket Lanes Bowling Center under the newly initiated campus style dining program.  Airman who are on meal card status are able to use their Common Access Cards for meals at 45th Force Support Squadron nonappropriated fund dining venues: Beach House, Manatee Cove Golf Course Clubhouse, Rocket Lanes Bowling Center, and The Tides, in addition to Riverside Dining Facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Eric Brian)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Airman 1st Class Jackie Summers, 45th Comptroller Squadron, gets lunch from Cheri Heywood, Aramark employee, July 7 at Rocket Lanes Bowling Center under the newly initiated campus style dining program. Airman who are on meal card status are able to use their Common Access Cards for meals at 45th Force Support Squadron nonappropriated fund dining venues: Beach House, Manatee Cove Golf Course Clubhouse, Rocket Lanes Bowling Center, and The Tides, in addition to Riverside Dining Facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Eric Brian)

PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- Airmen at Patrick AFB are experiencing more variety for their meal choices this summer as the first-ever Air Force base to participate under a new Food Transformation Initiative program.

Campus style dining launched July 5 at Patrick, the first of six FTI pilot bases. The initiative launched in October 2010 with a goal to better serve the dining needs of today's Airmen.

Airmen on meal card status may now get food and drink at Manatee Cove Golf Course Clubhouse, Beach House, Rocket Lanes Bowling Center and The Tides, in addition to Riverside Dining Facility. These locations are all nonappropriated Fund 45th Force Support Squadron-contracted/Aramark Corporation-operated food and beverage operations. In the past, the Dining Facility was the only choice for Airmen on meal card status.

Airman 1st Class J. William Summers, 45th Comptroller Squadron, ordered lunch July 7 at Rocket Lanes Bowling Center. For Airman Summers, who transferred recently from tech school at Keesler AFB, this was his first campus dining experience away from the Dining Facility.

"I just got on the meal card, so don't have a lot of experience at the Dining Facility, but I think this is better," said Airman Summers. "It gives us more options."

Campus dining was working well during its initial week, said Alina Pietroforte, 45th Force Support Squadron Food Service Assistant. "We're the first test base to start campus dining. We get tickets every day and it is working."

Airmen authorized essential station messing have that information programmed into their Common Access Cards (CACs), which are used to account for meals at participating locations to account for their meals.

"This gives these meal card folks who just got here an opportunity to eat not only at the Dining Hall, but to get a burger elsewhere," said Ms. Pietroforte. "These places specialize in certain types of food and have specials."

Some Airmen may not have transportation to the dining facility.

"Members whose offices are located closer to the golf course, like the Medical Group folks at the clinic, may go there," said Ms. Pietroforte. "If there's a group of people who are going to eat somewhere else, the Airmen can join them."

Riverside Dining Facility offers a beautiful view at an award-winning facility, but it may be nice to eat at a different place, she said. "Plus there's a variety of food because it's completely different."

"If you're told you have to eat in a five-star restaurant seven days per week, you're going to get tired even of that," said Pete King, 45th Force Support Squadron Food Service Officer. "Airmen may get tired of eating burgers at the bowling center, so they may get dinner at The Tides, then go back to eating regular meals at the Dining Facility. This gives them lots of options; that's what it's all about."

What the program is not about is purchasing alcohol, he said, although some of the venues may offer alcohol to patrons of age.

"No alcohol is authorized, and no two-for-one steak dinners at The Tides," said Mr. King. "This also goes for Reservists on UTA weekends, or with meals stated on 40A orders. This is not for reservists on active duty, such as annual tour/training, since they're getting BAS.

"This also doesn't include AAFES sites and the BX/Food Court; they're not connected," he added.