Essential to the effort: Quiet professionals serve meals to nation’s defenders

Photo By G. Anthonie Riis | Lovetta Winters devotes countless hours serving Soldiers during the COVID-19 health crisis, saying she is honored to care for those who risk their lives for the nation.



Story by G. Anthonie Riis 

Fort Knox

While many people these days work from their homes, Lovetta Winters and her peers spend their time at Fort Knox feeding the nation’s defenders.

Working in Cantigny Dining Facility, Winters has provided meals to service members at the Army post for almost 20 years. She said it remains an honor to serve them.

“They don’t get days off,” Winters said. “They still have to train – winter, spring, summer and fall.”

She said the current crisis has presented some challenges, but the food service workers are determined to deliver.

“Our dining rooms are closed, so Soldiers have to get their meals to go, but we’re still here to cook for them,” said Winters.

Some of the changes in how they must prepare and deliver meals are not new to them, though many admittedly are.

“We’ve always sanitized and used gloves, and now we’re wearing masks,” Winters said. “Since COVID, we’ve been doing some extreme sanitizing, and have [added] more wall hand sanitizer stations.

“We even have one at our time clock to sanitize when we clock in and before we head home to our families.”

Part of keeping the coronavirus at bay is keeping it from coming in the door, said Winters.

“They take our temperatures at the door every time we enter the building, and if anyone is sick or has a temperature, they’re not allowed inside,” she said. “There are monitors at the door who screen the military [members] before they’re allowed to come in.”

Infrastructure, like Plexiglas see-through panels, have been installed to prevent the transmission of infected particles to others.

All the standards are highly regulated to ensure they’re enforced, Winters said.

“We have government inspectors who monitor us and contracted quality control inspectors who [visit] our sanitation stations, too,” said Winters. “They make sure we’re following recipes and [monitoring] heat standards by Army guidelines to kill any possible bacteria that could make people sick.

“We’re very strict about that.”

Winters said while the population coming through food lines has diminished, dedication to serve service members has not.

“We’re seeing a lot less trainees right now, but the numbers are starting to come up,” Winters said. “Our top priority is Soldiers, and we’re here to make sure they’re being taken care of – no matter how many there are.

“They go out and risk their lives for us, and we come in here to return the favor.”

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