Cooks keeping up morale at NAS Whidbey

The Admiral Nimitz Hall Galley on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is among the many restaurants turning to takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Galley is seeing a big increase in the number of meals it produces.

Naval Food Service Officer Erick Roberts said his team is making about twice as many meals per day than it used to because of the number of personnel who were placed in a restriction of movement status.

Restriction of Movement is a general term, which includes quarantine, that refers to the limitation of personal liberty for the purpose of ensuring health, safety and welfare. It is used for sailors coming back from deployment or who are about to be deployed.

In this case, “restriction of movements are being used to prevent or diminish the transmission of COVID-19,” base spokesman Mike Welding said, and “includes Navy personnel who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, had potential exposure to the virus.”

About 300 NAS Whidbey military personnel are under a restriction of movement and are expected to remain in their homes for at least 14 days or until they meet criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and the Navy.

For Roberts, the 300 personnel in ROM status means his team is making an additional 900 meals a day. A shift of about 10 people will work for two days from 3:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. before receiving a two-day break. He said he is also sanitizing the galley throughout the day and that everyone is wearing face masks and rubber gloves.

“The last thing we want to do is get any of these sailors, who are coming for a balanced meal, sick,” he said.

The increased meal production has presented challenges for Roberts because his team is adhering to the dietary restrictions of the personnel. For the vegetarian meals, he said his team tries to come up with a tofu-based entree and something sauteed.

“We’ve honed skills for sailors we didn’t think we had,” Roberts said.

But he added that the meals are important for keeping up the morale of the soldiers.

“They’re meals are what they have to look forward to when they’re in their room everyday for 14 days.”

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