CIA Helps U.S. Air Force Redefine The Way Its Service Members Eat

Air Force
Certified Master Chef James Hanyzeski, a consulting chef from The Culinary Institute of America, explains cooking techniques to United States Air Force foodservice specialists at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado in September 2018. (Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Emily Kenney, U.S. Air Force)

Continuing its tradition of training active duty members of the United States military and veterans, The Culinary Institute of America has been working with the U.S. Air Force to improve both the taste and health value of the food our nation’s airmen and women eat.

Through the college’s consulting division, a team of former CIA faculty members and alumni chefs and dietitians has been working closely with the Air Force foodservice team to analyze and revise more than 700 recipes, create a new 28-day meal plan, and elevate serving stations at facilities to provide fresher, healthier, and more contemporary dining options.

The effort is part of the Department of Defense’s “Go for Green” (G4G) initiative, encouraging members of the armed forces to make proper food choices for optimal performance. Go for Green has been around since 2011, and when it came time for an update, the USAF came to the CIA.

“With G4G 2.0, we contacted the CIA’s trained dietician to help recode all our recipes,” says Tech. Sgt. Rachel Tate, Air Force Services Agency food and beverage manager. “There were certain things we didn’t take into account before that we’re taking into account now—for example, sodium content.”

The upgraded menu incorporates more bean, whole grain, and vegetable options, and includes specialty salads, wraps, and breakfast grain bowls.

“The approach we are taking with the Air Force is consistent with the CIA’s plant-forward strategy,” says Chef David Kamen, assistant director of CIA Consulting. “Servicemen and women across all branches are looking for more and healthier options. Our work with the USAF will directly and immediately translate through the Department of Defense to the other service branches as a model for feeding the troops.”

Winter Fancy Food Show November 2018 728×90

The CIA team—which includes four Certified Master Chefs—was recently at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, where they worked with 20 airmen and facility managers from eight different bases, teaching cooking techniques and providing suggestions to improve the offerings at their dining facilities. By the end of the year, the CIA will train more than 100 service members and civilian foodservice managers at American air bases in the United States, Germany, and Japan. A second phase of implementation and training is planned for 2019.

The CIA’s relationship with the U.S. military goes back to the college’s founding in 1946, when it was created to provide training to veterans returning from World War II. The college later began customized training to active service members of all five branches of the armed forces, and the Air Force and Navy have been sending their Hennessy Trophy and Ney Award winners to the CIA for special training since the 1970s. Backed by the benefits of today’s Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, the CIA now has more than 100 veterans enrolled in its degree programs.


About The Culinary Institute of America: Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. Dedicated to developing leaders in foodservice and hospitality, the independent, not-for-profit CIA offers master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking & pastry arts, food business management, hospitality management, culinary science, and applied food studies. The college also offers executive education, certificate programs, and courses for professionals and enthusiasts. Its conferences, leadership initiatives, and consulting services have made the CIA the think tank of the food industry and its worldwide network of nearly 50,000 alumni includes innovators in every area of the food world. The CIA has locations in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore. For more information, visit their website.