Keeping spirits healthy and full

Staff Sgt. Jerry Calalang, 509th Force Support Squadron food services craftsman, applies the final touches to a Thanksgiving Day cake Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The dining facility served a special Thanksgiving Day meal to increase morale among Airmen and families on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Staff Sgt. Jerry Calalang, 509th Force Support Squadron food services craftsman, applies the final touches to a Thanksgiving Day cake Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The dining facility served a special Thanksgiving Day meal to increase morale among Airmen and families on base. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Francisco Balderas Garcia, 509th Force Support Squadron, prepares an item for the Thanksgiving Day meal Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Francisco Balderas Garcia, 509th Force Support Squadron, prepares an item for the Thanksgiving Day meal Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Marco Tordera, 509th Force Support Squadron food services technician, prepares Swiss Steaks on a Tilt Grill at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility Nov. 2 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The Ozark Inn provides nutrition facts for all meals served. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Marco Tordera, 509th Force Support Squadron food services technician, prepares Swiss Steaks on a Tilt Grill at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility Nov. 2 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The Ozark Inn provides nutrition facts for all meals served. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane) (Released)

Senior Airman Duzaghi Tafie and Airman 1st Class Taqla Eidson, Ozark Inn Dining Facility team member, discuss specifics for the Thanksgiving Day Meal, Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. This event boosts morale for Airmen that are working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Senior Airman Duzaghi Tafie and Airman 1st Class Taqla Eidson, Ozark Inn Dining Facility team member, discuss specifics for the Thanksgiving Day Meal, Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. This event boosts morale for Airmen that are working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Staff Sgt. Jerry Calalang, and 1st Lt. Diana Wong, 509th Force Support Squadron, position desserts for the Thanksgiving Day Meal at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 22. Each year the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. This event boosts morale for Airmen that are working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Staff Sgt. Jerry Calalang, and 1st Lt. Diana Wong, 509th Force Support Squadron, position desserts for the Thanksgiving Day Meal at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Nov. 22. Each year the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. This event boosts morale for Airmen that are working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Tech. Sgt. David Giberson, 509th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of food services, slices beef in preparation for a Thanksgiving Day meal in the dining facility Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. This event boosts morale for Airmen that are working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Tech. Sgt. David Giberson, 509th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of food services, slices beef in preparation for a Thanksgiving Day meal in the dining facility Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year the dining facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. This event boosts morale for Airmen that are working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing Commander, serves a thanksgiving meal to Airman 1st Class Joe Ly, 509th Maintenance Squadron low observable apprentice, Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. General Bussiere and other members of wing leadership served food to Airmen and their families during an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Brig. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, 509th Bomb Wing Commander, serves a thanksgiving meal to Airman 1st Class Joe Ly, 509th Maintenance Squadron low observable apprentice, Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. General Bussiere and other members of wing leadership served food to Airmen and their families during an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Joe Ly, 509th Maintenance Squadron low observable apprentice, receives a thanksgiving meal from Chief Master Sgt. Lee Barr, 509th Bomb Wing command chief, Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Chief Barr and other members of wing leadership served food to Airmen and their families during an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Airman 1st Class Joe Ly, 509th Maintenance Squadron low observable apprentice, receives a thanksgiving meal from Chief Master Sgt. Lee Barr, 509th Bomb Wing command chief, Nov. 22 at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Chief Barr and other members of wing leadership served food to Airmen and their families during an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Lt. Col. Robert Gill, 509th Mission Support Group deputy commander, prepares to serve diners during the Thanksgiving Day meal Nov. 22 at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Lt. Col. Robert Gill, 509th Mission Support Group deputy commander, prepares to serve diners during the Thanksgiving Day meal Nov. 22 at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)
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Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)
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Each year, the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

Each year, the staff at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)
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Each year, the staff at the Ozark Inn Dining Facility hosts a Thanksgiving Day meal for Airmen and their families. The event helps boosts morale for Airmen working through the holidays and can’t make it home to their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nick Wilson) (Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Its 10:59 a.m. and the line of hungry airman has already begun to form outside the Ozark Inn Dining Facility.
 
Lunch begins at 11 a.m., however, the workers inside the Ozark Inn have been working since 4:30 a.m., preparing daily meals and planning for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Meal.

"Our mission here is to support the airmen living in the dorms with a place to get food every meal without having to worry about money," said Laurel Filbert, 509th Force Support Squadron assistant dining facility manager.

Currently a 16-member team, the staff works 24/7 in three shifts to provide meals for an average of 3,000 people each week.

Although short-manned due to deployments, the members of the dining facility still prepare four meals a day for airmen and other eligible Team Whiteman members

"Meals schedules are set by the headquarters agency," Filbert said. "It's a 28-day menu that after the first 14 days the lunch meals switch to dinner and the dinner to lunch."

The Ozark Inn management also works with the Health and Wellness Center to provide a charting system to let customers know how healthy each food option is.

"We have a program called 'Go for Green' where we color code all the meal options with red, yellow or green label," Filbert said. "Green is for the healthy choices that should be eaten often, yellow are for items you should eat sometimes and red is for items you should rarely eat."

Trying to keep the airmen fed and healthy are the main goals for the dining facility added Filbert. But these airmen also have an extensive culinary knowledge and are able to prepare all meals by following the recipes correctly.

"It's great to know I can get three meals a day without having to worry about money or anything," said Dylan Jarvis, 509th Munitions Squadron.

Filbert also has high praises for the airmen who work in the dining facility, as they are short-manned yet are still able to produce high-quality food.

"I hate saying we have been short-manned," Filbert said. "But we have been and or airmen have stepped up, working 12-hour shifts, yet they don't complain and they continue to produce great products."

On Thanksgiving Day, Filbert will have additional assistance as Team Whiteman's commanders, chiefs, first sergeants and their spouses will help out by serving diners.

The Ozark Inn Dining Facility staff will also work with the Airman & Family Readiness Center to prepare a "Hearts Apart" meal for deployed spouses.

Editor's Note: This feature is part of a five-part series entitled "Working through the Holidays," highlighting Whiteman Airmen and units who continue to perform the mission throughout the holiday season.