Vicenza, ITALY — Culinary specialists assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade re-opened the Italian Mensa on Caserma Ederle this week, offering additional food options for personnel currently complying with the Italian decree aimed at defeating COVID-19.
The mensa, an Italian operated dining facility offering Italian cuisine to the Vicenza Military Community, had closed after all host nation workers were ordered to stay home in compliance with the Italian decree limiting work to mission essential operations.
With the Caserma Ederle dining facility already under renovation, and soldiers mostly required to remain on post due to the movement limitations, soldiers needed food options.
“The 173rd [Airborne Brigade] took over to provide food for [those] soldiers,” said Sgt. Shane Baldwin, a culinary specialist working at the facility.
Complying with Italian restrictions on social gatherings, the transformed mensa offers no seating.
“Everything that we cook is made to go,” said Baldwin.
Entering the facility, patrons are required to either wash or sanitize their hands before walking to the food service line where personnel wearing personal protective equipment carefully procure each part of the meal. Beverages and condiments are also included in this package.
“We are currently keeping the two-meter distance rule,” said Baldwin. When a line forms, stickers on the floor indicate how far one must remain from the person in front or behind them.
Despite the restrictions, the dining facility is fully operational, even providing food deliveries to personnel in quarantine.
The transformed mensa is open Monday through Friday from 0730 to 0900 for breakfast, 1130 to 1300 for lunch, 1630 to 1800 for dinner, and on weekends from 0930 to 1300 for brunch, and 1630 to 1800 for dinner.