Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs October 2, 2020
People have to eat. Right now, however, there are many things that can complicate this effort, like long shifts, the reconstruction of the Ramstein dining facility and COVID-19.
For Airmen and their families, the 86th Airlift Wing Chapel tried to alleviate these challenges with Operation Grace Delivery, working hard to offer free meals for Airmen, their families and those in quarantine as well.
“Our main goal is to provide spiritual support for our Airmen,” said Tech. Sgt. Gail Mones, 86th AW Chapel Plans and Programs noncommissioned officer in charge. “At the same time we are here to provide whatever it is that our Airmen need. Right now I think one way to reach people is to serve food.”
There have been other programs in the past involving food, like Operation Connect, which involved on-base restaurants providing catered food. This time, however, it is volunteers who have arrived in overwhelming numbers to assist.
Once volunteers arrived at the Southside Chapel, they were briefed on food preparation, sanitation and safety. Then they set up their work areas, assembled their cooking tools and began food preparation like chopping up fresh ingredients.
The Southside Chapel was full of volunteers cooking, laughing and getting to know each other as meals like lasagna, enchiladas, rice and shrimp were prepared during the last six weeks. Even in the casual environment, a lot of work was getting done.
“Today we will be delivering about 70 meals. During the program we delivered about 380 meals,” Mones said.
The final step of the program is to have volunteers deliver the meals directly to those who requested them. This is pivotal to those who are in quarantine and can’t leave their home.
With the reopening of Club 7 soon, the 86th AW Chapel team is halting the program to reevaluate how the program might be affected, and how it can best serve the community.
“The chapel would like to thank all the people who gave their time to help set up, cook and deliver the meals,” Mones said. “At times they even had more help than they needed.”
A volunteer chops carrots for a small salad at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 17, 2020. Operation Grace Delivery, run by the 86th Airlift Wing Chapel provided fresh meals for dorm Airmen and those in quarantine due to COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Destinee Preston, 86th Medical Squadron Medical Surgery Ward aerospace medical technician, stacks meals that are ready for delivery at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 24, 2020. Volunteers for Operation Grace Delivery were assigned tasks like food preparation, cooking, meal assembly and delivery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez)
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Antwan Williams, 86th Medical Squadron Medical Surgery Ward noncommissioned officer in charge, washes his hands before preparing food at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 24, 2020. Volunteers for Operation Grace Delivery were given food preparation guidelines before making meals for Airmen and those in quarantine due to COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez)
Volunteers work together in an assembly line to box freshly cooked meals at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 17, 2020. Ramstein Chapel received plenty of support for Operation Grace Delivery and hopes this trend continues in the future. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Giovanni Marone, 76th Airlift Squadron flight attendant, grabs a handful of broccoli that is ready for cooking at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 17, 2020. The meals provided by Operation Grace Delivery volunteers were provided to those who may not have easy access to food. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez)
Operation Grace Delivery volunteers prepare food for over 30 service members and their families at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 17, 2020. The operation aimed to provide meals for those who requested them and included menu items such as rice, fresh vegetables and shrimp. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Sanchez)