Airmen at five installations will see a new era in food service operations as the Air Force Food Transformation Initiative moves into its second phase.

The initiative, known as FTI, is a pilot program designed to provide Airmen greater variety, availability, and quality of food, while maintaining home station and warfighting feeding capabilities.

The second phase of FTI is underway at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming, and Beale AFB and Vandenberg AFB, both in California.

Throughout 2013, these bases will renovate their dining facilities to convert them from an institutional-style feeding platform to station feeding found on most college campuses. Beale AFB and Vandenberg AFB closed their dining facilities May 1 to begin renovations, while the dining facility at Ellsworth AFB currently under renovation will re-open June 3.

"Campus-style dining is designed to allow Airmen on essential station messing to eat at the dining facility or any of the other force support squadron's nonappropriated fund morale, welfare, and recreation food and beverage outlets on base," says Fred McKenney, the chief of Air Force Food and Beverage. "It provides Airmen the option to use their meal card entitlement at more convenient locations to where they work or reside."

According to McKenney, FTI will transform installation food service operations to meet the needs of base personnel and enhance a sense of community by expanding the eligibility of customers who can use the facilities.

"When we looked at the Air Force from a corporate perspective, we saw an opportunity to better meet the needs of Airmen," McKenney says. "When designing FTI, we considered the entire base population to include active duty, dependents, civilians and retirees. Menus were redesigned by adding more nutritional and contemporary items.

Additionally, FTI will enhance readiness by providing advanced culinary training. These newly acquired skills will be utilized to better serve customers at home and during deployments.

"When we incorporated FTI into the first six pilot installations, it helped us assess Airmen's culinary proficiency," McKenney said. "This program enhances our Airmen's day-to-day cooking skills and allows practical application in a more commercial environment."

The initial phase launched in 2010 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, Fairchild AFB in Washington State, Little Rock AFB in Arkansas, MacDill AFB and Patrick AFB in Florida and Travis AFB in California. Results from the first phase of FTI have shown significantly improved customer satisfaction.

"FTI pilot installations have an overall customer satisfaction rating eigth percent higher when compared to traditional dining facilities," McKenney says.