New Dorm kitchen upgrades residents’ quality of life

  • Published
  • By Amn Brenden Beezley & Amn William Lunn
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Unaccompanied Airmen assigned to McConnell have a newly renovated kitchen to prepare meals during hours when the dining facility is closed.

Finished on May 31, 2022, the kitchen features five stoves, two refrigerators, two sinks, a dishwasher, a variety of cookware and large countertops.

The project was essential to solving a crucial problem for McConnell’s shift workers. Airmen whose job schedules conflict with the dining facilities hours are eligible to receive full Basic Allowance for Subsistence. This kitchen allows those Airmen to prepare meals themselves.

“I didn’t think it would be this big of a difference compared to the last kitchen, so it’s a huge improvement overall,” said Airman Raymond Bennett, a resident in the dorm. “I think a big reason why we’re all going to use it is that it’s now a great hang out spot.”

The dorm’s problems were brought to the attention of McConnell’s leadership after a meeting with the dorm council at the end of last year. Leaders were quick to tackle the three main requests from the dorm council to improve quality of life. First, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s first sergeants upgraded the Wi-Fi in the dorm buildings’ common spaces. After that, the 22nd Mission Support Group partnered with the Army & Air Force Exchange Service to install a “MicroMart”, a quick convenience shop, in the dorms. Lastly, the 22nd Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) completed the third project with this kitchen.

McConnell civil engineers estimated a contract for the project would be $126,000 but after determining that the squadron could do it cheaper, at around $44,000, and use it as a training opportunity, they began the planning process to complete the project themselves.

The number one goal for the project was to streamline the process and complete the construction and furnishing of the kitchen as fast as possible. CES started by designing a layout, then materials were researched and selected. With timeliness in mind, material's were selected that would not only make a nice kitchen for the Airmen but also would be delivered promptly. The other challenge CES had to overcome was the precise level of coordination required from different shops in order to prevent delays caused by inefficiency.

“Coordination with each craft was another part of this,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Bennet, 22nd CES structural craftsman. “We had to make sure HVAC [technicians], electricians, plumbers and our shop would be able to work without any long delays in the timeline. This coordination enabled the quick completion of the best-looking dorm kitchen in the Air Force with no delays.”

After the six months of planning, coordinating and building from the crews, 22nd Air Refueling Leadership and the dorm managers announced the kitchen open June 10, 2022.