Installation to open new DFACS to accommodate influx of cadets, cadre

-A A +A

When about 12,000 cadets from colleges across the nation descend on Fort Knox this summer for Cadet Summer Training, eight dining facilities will open to accommodate them as well as the more than 5,000 cadre.

When CST is not on Fort Knox, only one DFAC is typically open—Cantigny.

Fort Knox Food Program Manager Brad Richardson said when the other DFACs open those will be for cadets. The facilities will be in Bldgs. 5940, 6012, 5915, 6018, 5917, 6542, 6555 and 2835.

Before CST begins the staff begin preparing the DFACs for the cadets. For example, if a piece of equipment isn’t operational and can’t be fixed, Richardson is responsible for ordering a
new one. If the equipment is over a certain price it must go through contracting and out for bidding, which takes time.

During the process of making sure everything is in the DFACs, Richardson discovered there had been issues with some of the HVAC systems and they needed to be repaired. The kitchen equipment must remain covered while this work is being completed—making it difficult to determine if replacements are required.

Additionally, the facilities have to be cleaned and undergo a variety of inspections. Recycling and dumpsters also have to be installed in the facilities. Making sure all of this is done presents a challenge for Richardson.

“A lot of stuff has to be done,” Richardson said. “It’s a longer process than just going to Lowe’s or Wal-Mart.”

While making sure the DFACs were operational Richardson ran into an issue at Kouma. A few years ago Kouma closed and stopped functioning as a DFAC and became a child development center, which meant parts of the structure had to be changed to meet the needs of a CDC. Doing so meant it no longer had a main line for food or a salad bar and those had to be rebuilt in the facility.

The facility was named after the late Master Sgt. Ernest Kouma, a former Fort Knox game warden who was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War.

Although Kouma won’t open by the time CST begins, Richardson said it might be operational by mid-July.

Another challenge that Richardson has while preparing for CST is hiring an experienced workforce during the summer because there aren’t many places in the surrounding areas that has the capabilities of feeding about 16,000 people.

“Nothing outside the gates can compare to this,” explained Richardson. “(We) hire college students (and they typically aren’t) experienced cooks or dining facility attendants. (We) have to train them and get them up to speed at a quick pace. (We) can’t hire (them any earlier because of) the contract.”

Richardson said the first DFAC will open May 25 and the others will stagger their openings ev- ery seven to 10 days. But, he said, cadre are on Fort Knox and they have been using Bldg. 6542 as their dining facility.

As the date gets closer for cadets to arrive on post, Richardson will ensure the newly hired staff have what they need.

“IT equipment has to be up to speed (and) new employees have to go through (the Fort Knox Network Enterprise Center,” he said. “(We) have to (also) get (common access cards) for the new employees.”

Once the summer is over it will be time to begin the process of shutting down the DFACs. Crews will begin cleaning and inspect the equipment. They will also begin the process of of switching out appliances that need to be changed.

Editor’s note: Catrina Francis, Gold Standard acting editor, contributed to this article. n