COLORADO SPRINGS – The dining facility at the Air Force Academy is known as “Mighty Mitchell Hall” because it is three and a half stories tall with the capability of serving more than 4,000 cadets at once in less than 30 minutes.
“Well, we like to think it as mighty because we have a mighty amazing crew that puts these meals together and it’s the largest in the Air Force so it’s gotta be mighty,” Director of Mitchell Hall Eddie Adelman said.
The kitchen dishes out 3.5 million meals a year, according to the director. The cadets eat $1.5 million worth of food every month. There are 190 staff members and they start their day at 3:30 in the morning.
“We have four or five tractor-trailers full of food that show up here, go into our warehouse and go up to the cooks,” Adelman said. “We have about 32 cooks that cook meals 24 hours a day sometimes depending our folks are mission essential so they’re here everyday rain or snow. If it snows and we know it’s coming they spend the night to make sure the cadets get the food that they need.”
The Mitchell Hall serves up meals family-style for 4,400 people all at the same time.
“Our folks put the food in the hot carts so it has enough food for about 20 tables and when they say cadets sit our folks hit the road and they put the food out in about 5 minutes and they eat in about 20 minutes and then we get up and do it again,” Adelman explained.
Mitchell Hall has two dietitian nutritionists and they go through the menu line item by line item working to make sure that the cadets are provided with fresh foods, fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We’re trying to buy more local items to support the local economy and we want to make sure that the cadets are prepared academically and atheletically so they can go and beat Army!” said Adelman.
The work isn’t done when the food is served. There are three dishwashers that wash about 20,000 dishes after each meal.