Food on the Fly: Mobile Kitchen Provides the 145th Airlift Wing New Capabilities for Disaster Relief

Photo By Master Sgt. Nathan Clark | The 145th Airlift Wing Force Support Squadron’s new Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer (DRMKT) is prepped for use while outside of the Dining Facility at North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, December 9, 2020. The 145th Airlift Wing is the second unit to receive the DRMKT which can be used to provide up to 960 meals per hour to locations affected by natural disasters.

Responding to natural disasters is one of the most crucial missions for the North Carolina National Guard; to help with that, the 145th Airlift Wings Force Support Squadron was selected to receive the newest model of the Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer.

The ability to deliver food to areas affected by Hurricanes and other disasters is a large part of recovery. This is where the idea of the Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer (DRMKT) originated.

“We developed the Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer to solve many of the inefficiencies we observed in our Nation’s response to Hurricane Katrina,” said Mr. Bill Hague, a retired United States Marine Corp Lt. Col. and current member of Babington Technology, the company behind the design and construction of the DRMKT.

“The commercial and volunteer disaster response organizations utilize electric and propane kitchen equipment,” said Hague, who notes that the power requirement for electric kitchens can be enormous and oftentimes will require generators nearly as large as the kitchen themselves.

Meanwhile, propane generators come with their own set of issues. “First, propane is likely to be in very short supply in disaster-stricken areas and responders find their propane tanks are not authorized to transit designated national infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels,” Mr. Hague points out, “As a result, hot meals and warming beverages are either delayed or not provided at all.”

Babington Technology personnel observed the problem with electric and propane kitchens and utilized a technology of theirs call the Airtronic Burner, which uses the complete family of diesel fuels cleanly and efficiently, without creating smoke or soot. The benefit of this, is that the kitchen appliances now use the same fuel as the trucks used to deliver the supplies; diesel.

“Each type of military ration requires different cooking and heating times,” says Hague. “Each Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer is equipped with two heated serving lines. Each serving line can support approx. six to eight -diners per minute, so using both lines, we can serve up to 960 meals per hour regardless of the ration type.”

Babington Technology manufactures a variety of military field feeding systems. They began working with military programs within the Marine Corps Tray Ration Heating System in 1995. The 145th Airlift Wing is the second unit selected to receive the Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer, with 54 more in production to be delivered to all fifty states and at least four U.S. territories.

The Mobile Kitchen has been fully adopted by the Air National Guard as the primary domestic response asset to feed first responders and the survivors of Natural Disasters. As Mr. Hague notes, four of the previous models were deployed to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Maria and two others were sent to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to Mr. Hague, the creation and deployment of these trailers is only expected to increase, “Given the implications of global climate change, the need for these new Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer s will only continue to grow and if required, it can be loaded onto a C-17 and be delivered to any location in the world that requires assistance. The sky, literally, is the limit of its reach.”

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