Imagine the task at hand when over 4,000 hungry Air Force Academy cadets march into the Mitchell Hall Dining Facility for mandatory noon meals. Over 196 authorized positions, hard-working and dedicated staff, some starting as early as 3 am, work diligently to prepare and serve meals in one of the most advanced and largest mass dining facilities in the world. On the announcement from the staff tower of "wing take seats", wait staff have a mere 5 minutes to have all hot food served on each table. Within only 20 minutes, cadets will consume the meal and be on their way to a busy and strenuous academic schedule.
Mitchell Hall was dedicated in honor of military aviation pioneer Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell in 1959.
The dining area covers 1.7 acres and has the capability of serving the entire cadet wing at the same time, in and out in only 30 minutes. The dining room was designed as a clear-span area so that every cadet would be able to see dignitaries seated on the mezzanine or staff tower as it is known.
Two loading docks are located at the lowest level: a service floor on the next level houses 13,445 sq ft of supply and food storage, administrative offices, preparation areas, and informal and formal dining rooms. The main level includes the cadet dining area, kitchen facilities and two dishwashing sections; and the mezzanine level (staff tower) includes offices and a limited dining area reserved for the Superintendent, Commandant of Cadets, Dean of Faculty and the Cadet Wing Commander and staff.
Ever since opening, Mitchell Hall has served the mandatory meals family style. Cold food items are placed on tables prior to the start of the meal and hot food items are served to cadets from warming carts within 5 minutes after taking their seats. Family style dining is based on providing 10 servings of each item in serving dishes, which are passed around the table by cadets.
Two registered dieticians support an extensive nutrition program for Mitchell Hall. Nutrition counseling is provided for weight loss, weight gain, eating disorders, sports nutrition, vegetarianism, dental soft/liquid diets when indicated, or just healthy eating. Vegetarian, light and heavy/training diets are prepared for those cadets requiring special menus.
Nutrition Management also oversees the Food Testing Program for Mitchell Hall, allowing cadets to test new food items and provide feedback. In addition to our customer comment forms provided at every meal, Mitchell Hall also holds monthly Food Focus Groups with cadets to allow cadets the opportunity to give constructive feedback to management. During these focus groups, management is also able to address any concerns or changes occurring within the building.
Nutrition promotions are held monthly and present a different topic during the dinner meal. Newsletters that correspond to the monthly topic are also sent out to cadets. Some examples of topics include: Sports Nutrition, Fad Diets, Antioxidants and Heart Health.