An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Search
NEWS | April 3, 2020

Protecting the force: Joint Base MDL Airmen keep personnel nourished during pandemic

By Staff Sgt. Jake Carter Joint Base MDL Public Affairs

With the United States and other countries trying to conquer the COVID-19 pandemic, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, has taken appropriate measures to protect the force while attempting to flatten the curve.

When new personnel arrive to the installation by way of permanent change of station or through temporary deployment, they are placed into a mandatory two week quarantine to ensure each individual is cleared before arriving to their new work center.

During this time, those individuals are able to relax, rest and can catch up on favorite television shows or their favorite hobbies in their rooms. While unable to leave from their quarters, the men and women at the Halvorson Hall dining facility ensure each member is provided proper nourishment to keep them fit to fight.

Senior Master Sgt. Eric Lawlor, 87th Force Support Squadron food service section chief, realizes how important it is to have food and water provided to individuals in quarantine while they are still adjusting to being away from the general public.

“This movement meets a basic human need of food and water and meeting that fundamental need is important,” said Lawlor. “A situation like this makes it even more important because we might take it for granted day to day where we usually can get food anytime we want, but in times like this it’s more difficult to have those comforts.”

The Airmen at Halvorson Hall, are providing more than 150 meals each meal period to ensure each quarantined member is fed. To make it more enjoyable, customized meals are offered to make sure each individual can have the best eating experience.

“These boxed lunches are feeding our quarantined and isolated personnel that are unable to leave their rooms for two weeks,” said Staff Sgt. Ashlee Unger, 87th FSS assistant DFAC manager. “If they ask for a sandwich with no cheese, we make that happen because we want to make it as perfect as possible because we are their only source of food during this time. Once we got what they wanted, I started to feel that we were doing something right and making them happy, so it felt really good to do that for them.”

With the increased need to keep those individuals taken care of during this unprecedented time, other agencies from across the installation have provided a helping hand to ensure each individual gets a meal on time.

“We have had help from members in the Wing Staff Agencies and Airmen that work out on the flightline,” said Unger. “They are helping us out a lot by boxing the lunches as well as creating some meals.”

While dealing with a situation as diverse as this, Lawlor reflected how this can better the force for the future.

“There’s a lot of talented people here in the food services section with a lot of smart ideas,” said Lawlor. “This is one of those once in a career type of situations, but it feels good to be a part of something where we are figuring out processes as we go that has become a very robust process. It’s rewarding for sure.”

With this situation not being the ideal scenario for those in quarantine, Lawlor and his staff hope what they are doing is having a positive impact for those individuals that when the pandemic comes to an end, those members can reflect and appreciate how other members rallied to help those in need.  

“Hopefully this can put a smile on their face, in addition to taking care of them and their needs to give them a morale boost,” said Lawlor. “If I was in their shoes, I’d want to come see who was supporting me with the food, changing my linens and taking away my trash. You can put a face to a name where it would be really cool and rewarding for both parties.”