DynCorp International advisor Rodney Matthews is committed to excellence in the dining facilities (DFAC) at the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC), where he mentors members of the Afghan National Army (ANA).
Matthews works with the ANA DFAC staff to serve 39,000 meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – to more than 13,000 ANA personnel daily, while working to improve the overall condition of the DFAC as well as quality of the food served.
Bringing Food Service Experience to KMTC
Matthews came to DI in 2009, after retiring from a 28-year career in the U.S. Army. He started out as a food service specialist and moved up the ranks to installation food advisor, retiring at the rank of E8 -First Sergeant/Master Sergeant of the company.
When he started working with the program, he started with the basics, teaching ANA personnel things that he learned over his years as a cook and food service advisor.
“I started a once-a-week class with my translator to teach small bits of information incrementally over time, rather than trying to overwhelm them with a lot all at once. It is about 45 minutes because that’s about the optimum time for me to explain a topic and not interfere with their regular work schedule to feed the troops,” said Matthews.
Through these classes, he taught tips and best practices on hygiene, sanitation, health and keeping the DFAC clean while serving food.
Improving the DFACs
After four years, Matthews is working successfully with his third ANA food-service company commander, constantly looking to improve the food service program. One area that needed improvement was the installation of ice machines, which are necessary for a DFAC in the high desert. Matthews recognized the need and spent a significant amount of time working through all the procedures and paperwork to get equipment installed.
“Working with the ANA commander, we persisted and eventually got five ice machines installed that provide 500 pounds a day for the troops,” said Matthews.
Matthews also focused on improving dining during VIP visits to the training center.
“Because we get a lot of VIP visits, I wanted to improve how they set up the meals for them,” he said. “We got proper equipment to make sure the food would stay hot for the VIP dinners, and obtained new uniforms for the cooks and servers.”
For Matthews, DFAC improvement remains a work in progress. “Are there areas that we still want to improve? Yes,” he said. “That is why in addition to introducing new topics, we regularly have refresher courses to remind DFAC employees of the necessities and to educate the new team members of their obligations.”
As the KMTC DFAC continues to progress, Matthews is quick to share credit. “Without the support of DI leadership and the Afghan officers at KMTC, I am not certain we would have made the advances we have.”