FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After more than two months of renovations to its in-house kitchen facility, the Fort Rucker Child Development Center is reaping the benefits of improved efficiency, ease of use and a more comfortable atmosphere.
The $300,000 in renovations resulted in what is basically an entirely new facility, complete with numerous repairs, new equipment, a more efficient workspace and a new air conditioning system, according to Toni Hampton, Fort Rucker CYS coordinator.
“Our building was built in 1991 and there have not been any major renovations in the kitchen since then,” Hampton said. “What they did was replace all of the equipment – we have a new oven, a new refrigerator, a new freezer, new sinks – and they reconfigured the area to make the workflow easier for the kitchen staff.”
The kitchen also now includes a new ice maker and an area for preparing meals for children with allergies to certain foods, she added.
Dianna Stinson, food preparation staff at CDC, said the renovations are a big help.
“We love it – it’s more spacious and the equipment is up to date, so it makes our job a lot easier to accommodate the kids,” she said, adding that she is impressed with the way the workspace was organized. “Everything is basically at hand, which makes my job a lot easier – the kids want their food when it’s supposed to be there, and this helps me better help them.”
CYS’ kitchen staff is supposed to have four people in the CDC, with two at the youth center and one at the school age center, Hampton said.
“They order the food, they stock the food, and almost all of our menu items are created from scratch,” she added. “They also have to provide alternatives for children with allergies. They deliver all of the food down to the classrooms, they do all of the dishes, so it’s a big job.”
But the CDC staff is currently a staff of one, thanks to a cook shortage, Hampton said, adding that Marinela Foor, youth center cook, and Marion McCloud, school age center cook, help Stinson ensure the children at the center are eating properly.
“She is working as hard as she can work,” she said of Stinson. “She is so dedicated and she’s just been through everything. She’s worked during COVID, worked during the kitchen shutdown at the CDC and now she’s just doing what has to be done. I can’t say enough good things about her.”
For her part, Stinson enjoys taking care of the children of Fort Rucker by preparing them four meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and afternoon and evening snacks, she said.
“I love the people that I work with at the CDC,” she said. “I love that the parents and the staff here entrust me to take care of their little ones.
To apply for or get more information on the food preparation positions at the CDC, visit https://www.usajobs.gov/.