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U.S. Soldiers Reopen Dining Facility While Meeting Italian COVID-19 Requirements

March 30, 2020 | BY ARMY SPC. RYAN LUCAS

Culinary specialists assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade reopened the Italian Mensa dining facility on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, offering additional food options in a manner that complies with the Italian government decree aimed at defeating COVID-19.

A soldier works in a cafeteria.
To-Go Prep
A culinary specialist assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade prepares meals to go during the reopening of the Italian Mensa on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, March 27, 2020.
Photo By: Army Spc. Ryan Lucas
VIRIN: 200326-A-BT239-295
 

The Italian-operated facility, which offers Italian cuisine to the Vicenza military community, had closed after all host-nation workers were ordered to stay home in compliance with the Italian government’s 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," Baldwin said.

A soldier prepares food in a kitchen.
Food Prep
Culinary specialists assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade prepare meals to go during the reopening of the Italian Mensa on Caserma Ederlein in Vicenza, Italy, March 27, 2020.
Photo By: Army Spc. Ryan Lucas
VIRIN: 200326-A-BT239-116


Entering the facility, patrons are required to either wash or sanitize their hands before walking to the food service line, where soldiers 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," Baldwin said. When a line forms, stickers on the floor indicate how far apart people must remain.

A social distancing sign features the words “Corona Metro” and a pair of combat boot prints on a red background.
Social Distancing
Signs mark social distancing spots on the floor as part of a renovation by culinary specialists assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade for the reopening of the Italian Mensa on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, to comply with the Italian decree aimed at defeating COVID-19, March 27, 2020.
Photo By: Army Spc. Ryan Lucas
VIRIN: 200326-A-BT239-421


Despite the restrictions, the dining facility is fully operational, even providing food deliveries to people in quarantine.

(Army Spc. Ryan Lucas is assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.)