Submitted by Alicia Bennett, Public Affairs Officer, U. S. Forest Service Job Corps
Oops . . .they did it again. Who you ask? Job Corps students manning a mobile kitchen that spent two weeks preparing three meals a day to the 150 personnel responding to the Colt Fire at Seeley Lake. The successful track record of the three Job Corps mobile kitchens has national catering contractors looking over their shoulders. The significance of Job Corps’ culinary support is even more apparent considering that prior attempts by other catering services fell short of fire contracting standards.
“After hosting three caterers for the Colt Fire this summer, Job Corps is hands down ‘the best’,” according to the evaluations. “The first caterer’s food was not great, the second was not clean. Job Corp is providing good food and are extremely clean Job Corps deserve a shout out. Maybe we could just go with them in the future and skip the others.”
Upon arrival, the Flatwoods Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center students and staff operating the Job Corps mobile kitchen promptly stepped in. With no break in service, they continued to serve the responders with unwavering diligence for a two-week stretch.
Job Corps students are taught that providing support on a wildland fire is an honor. Students chosen for fire assignments are committed to performing at the highest level. Even operating under a newly hired kitchen supervisor and food unit leader trainee, the crew, consisting of one cook, two crew bosses, and seven AD-camp crew students, functioned smoothly as a team. The meals they prepared, paired with exceptional customer service, not only filled the stomachs of responders but also maintained high-quality standards.
Job Corps mobile kitchen chefs purchase the highest quality of food their budgets allow and they are conscious not to waste food. At the Colt Fire, the culinary team’s efficient resource management resulted in surplus food. This allowed for food donations to local charities, including “Meals on Wheels” and the “After School Brown Bag Program,” a much-needed resource for students suffering from food insecurity.
Work-based learning opportunities provided by fire deployments are critical to the success of the Job Corps program and the exceptional performance of the Job Corps mobile kitchen highlights the important of delivering high-quality meals for those on the front lines of emergency response.
The Job Corps mobile kitchens are part of the Job Corps Wildland Fire Program. The kitchens have finished their deployments for the 2023 season but will be back in action in 2024. Contact Mobile Kitchen Partnership Coordinator Kenneth C. Andren, Jr. at [email protected] or 605-490-3814 to order one up for your next training event. If you order a mobile kitchen for a Type 3 fire in the IQCS system, please note that a 72-hour time frame is needed from receipt of the resource order. Be a hero to your firefighters and order a Job Corps mobile kitchen to feed your firefighters!