PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. Aca,!" When Ernest Meadows joined the staff of the Presidio of Monterey Food Services Division seven months ago he was ready to contribute to an extensive makeover of the installationAca,!a,,cs dining facilities.

The task of serving meals to the PresidioAca,!a,,cs 3,000 service members is entrusted to the division, which is headed by Samuel Davis; in turn, the division is part of the Directorate of Logistics, which is headed by Adam Barnow. The directorate oversees contracts with the private sector to staff the installationAca,!a,,cs two dining facilities, Combs Hall and Belas Hall, and a kiosk that serves short-order meals.

Meadows is a contracting officerAca,!a,,cs representative and serves as the PresidioAca,!a,,cs food adviser and dining facilities inspector. He came to the Presidio with 27 years of experience in food service at military installations Aca,!" 10 years as a Soldier and 17 years as a Department of Defense civilian employee. His work includes overseas installations in Germany and stateside installations including Fort Riley, Kan; Fort Hood, Texas: Fort Lewis, Wash.; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; and Fort McCoy, Wis.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cve worked at everything from everyday, full-service cooking to serving the general staff,Aca,!A? Meadows said, during a tour of the Combs facility, where he pointed out recent improvements.

Aca,!A"Our goal is to serve nutritious meals in an atmosphere thatAca,!a,,cs friendly and clean,Aca,!A? Meadows said. Aca,!A"And we want service members to feel comfortable when theyAca,!a,,cre having a meal with us. We want our dining facilities to be places theyAca,!a,,cll want to come back to.Aca,!A?

Meadows said the makeover of the PresidioAca,!a,,cs dining facilities was a directive from Col. Darcy A. Brewer, the Presidio Garrison commander, and some $47,000 has been invested in the effort to date. A lot of progress has been made at Combs and Belas on a Aca,!A"decor packageAca,!A? of physical improvements that include new floor plans, furniture, planter boxes, window blinds and framed art and photo prints on all the walls.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre still adding to it,Aca,!A? Meadows said. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre about to replace our salad bars with new ones that are more user-friendly. TheyAca,!a,,cre tilted so you donAca,!a,,ct have to reach so far for the items in back.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"Not too sterile and not too over the topAca,!A? is the ambiance the dAfAcor planners sought, Meadows said. Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve gotten a little away from a military theme and tried to arrive at a three-star or four-star restaurant atmosphere.Aca,!A? While dAfAcor improvements have been going on, improvements were being made also in the dining facilitiesAca,!a,,c menus.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cve added menu items such as baked chicken every day along with turkey burgers and baked fish,Aca,!A? Meadows said. Aca,!A"Not everyone likes red meat. We now have more vegetarian items like black bean casseroles and veggie burgers. We have a fantastic salad bar with 84 items on a rotation basis. Within season we have every fruit you can name Aca,!" watermelon, cantaloupes, oranges, nectarines, grapes, kiwis, fresh strawberries, plums. We work with our nutritionists and we take a lot of input from service members.Aca,!A?

Meadows said responding to dinersAca,!a,,c preferences is a measure of a dining facilityAca,!a,,cs success. Aca,!A"We want service members to know that this is their facility and that their ideas do count,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"We encourage their ideas.Aca,!A?

A food budget and the knowledge that even the best meals can become monotonous are realities that challenge menu planners.

Aca,!A"One way we deal with that is by serving theme meals,Aca,!A? Meadows said. Aca,!A"We just did a special menu for Black History Month. St. PatrickAca,!a,,cs Day is coming up. We can put out a good Asian meal during Asian-Pacific History Month. We serve holiday and special-event meals whenever we can. We even serve special meals in honor of each of the military services on their service birthdays.Aca,!A?

Meadows said that as the installation food adviser he advises the garrison commander on every aspect of food service. As a food service inspector he ensures that meals are of good quality, that portions are what they should be, that recipes are followed and that strict sanitary standards are adhered to. And, as a contracting officerAca,!a,,cs representative he makes sure all parties honor their commitments.

Aca,!A"I must make sure that all these things are up to Army standards,Aca,!A? Meadows said. Aca,!A"Not civilian standards, but Army standards.Aca,!A?

He explained that Aca,!A"Army food service and civilian restaurants mirror each other, but Army standards are a bit higher. If sanitation at an Army facility is not good and one Soldier gets sick, an entire unit can be affected. In the military, if one person goes down a mission may not succeed.Aca,!A?

Meadows offered a philosophical insight arrived at through experience. Aca,!A"YouAca,!a,,cve got to love this work to do it,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"If you donAca,!a,,ct love it you canAca,!a,,ct do it.Aca,!A?