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Navy Culinary Specialists in Virginia provided countless meals to servicemembers during pandemic

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Posted at 7:29 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 22:29:06-04

It's 6 a.m. inside the Northwest Annex galley, and the first line of hungry Marines comes in.

There, they find a line of breakfast food; eggs, oatmeal, bacon, and biscuits, each with a colored sign above it reading how much of the product they should eat for a productive day.

The job to keep these service members fed falls on the people behind the counter and in the kitchen: Navy Culinary Specialists.

"I like to cook a lot, and I like to be around other people, so this is probably the perfect rank for me," said CS2 Isaac Walker, whose rank stands for Culinary Specialist Second Class.

Walker is one of a team of Galley employees who provide 280,000 meals annually to the hundreds of Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guard members who come through NSA Hampton Roads' Northwest Annex in rural Chesapeake. Sometimes they feed others, too.

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Last week, a special Father's Day meal allowed families to join employees of the base that sits on the border of Virginia and North Carolina. While COVID-19 impacted everyone's way of life last year, the Galley stayed open.

"We had safety precautions in place," said CS2 Walker. "We couldn't have everyone in here at one time, and we had to have everybody go outside and eat, but people were still able to come in and [get the] food that they needed."

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Even today, you'll find reminders of COVID-19. Culinary Specialists are wearing masks, and plexiglass barriers are still up between those who come in to eat and the men and women who are serving them.

But in a job where the fuel you put into your body determines your readiness, meal production can never stop, meaning these Sailors have one of the most important jobs of all.

Anthony Sabella at WTKR first reported this story.