Feeding the masses
By Master Sgt. Chance Babin, Air Force Reserve Public Affairs
/ Published January 22, 2010
HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- The normally quiet base at Homestead has suddenly become the eye of the storm for the United States military humanitarian relief efforts during Operation Unified Response.
The sudden influx of personnel coming on and off base as well as the constant stream of evacuees being in-processed here has led the 482nd Services Squadron to step up their food-service operation.
"We've been running a 24-hour operation since Friday," said Master Sgt. Cleon McFarlane, 482nd Services Squadron, Dining Hall superintendent at Homestead. "We've been making between 500 to 800 box lunches a day and serving breakfast lunch and dinner."
The majority of the box lunches are being used to help feed the influx of evacuees arriving to the base from Haiti. The evacuees consist of United States citizens, residents, visitors and tourist, their status is determined by the Customs and Border Protection agents.
"It's emotional to see (the evacuees) over there getting their first decent meal," Sergeant McFarlane said. "The biggest concern is having enough food and supplies in order to meet the requirements."
In addition to the box lunches, Sergeant McFarlane is running a 24-hour kitchen, where base personnel and visitors can find a hot meal. His team of 31 Homestead reservists are accustomed to working weekends at the Falcons Nest Club, but the day and night operation hasn't slowed them down.
"We train to do this type of work, so the challenge was easily met because we have highly motivated Airmen," he said. "If I didn't have this team I have now, I would have quit the first day. They understand why we are here and what this mission is about."
Reservists from Pittsburgh's 911th Services Squadron are now in place augmenting the 482nd and more help is on the way from Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
Sergeant McFarlane welcomes the help. "The additional folks will help the situation," he said, "because the ops tempo is expected to increase due to additional flights coming in from Haiti."
"I volunteered because I wanted to help feed those affected by the earthquake," said Senior Airman Patrick Winebrenner, 911th Services Squadron. "It makes me feel good knowing someone is getting the food they need. They've been through a lot."