Mitchell Hall

The cadet dining facility, Mitchell Hall, is one of the largest mass dining facilities in the world. Dedicated in honor of military aviation pioneer Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell in 1959, the dining facility is a $15-million, three and one-half story structure in which more than 4,500 people can be served at one time.

Two loading docks are located at the lowest level. A service floor on the second level houses the storage, administrative and advance preparation areas. The main level includes the cadet dining area, kitchen facilities and two dishwashing sections. The top or mezzanine level, called the "staff tower," is reserved for the superintendent, commandant of cadets, dean of faculty and cadet wing commander and staff. Distinguished visitors also dine on the staff tower.

The cadet dining area covers more than 1.7 acres. Three walls of the dining area are glass from floor to ceiling. Erecting the roof of Mitchell Hall posed a unique problem when the building was under construction. The solution was to weld the roof sections together on the ground and jack the entire assembly up to the proper height.

The $8.8-million annual food budget is based upon a daily ration allowance provided each cadet. The allowance is the same as at West Point and Annapolis. Food service dietetic experts plan menus and provide a balanced diet each day. The cadets' vigorous activities demand meals high in complex carbohydrates, yet low in fat and cholesterol.

Mitchell Hall serves more than 3 million meals and prepares more than 100,000 box meals for cadet wing programs and club activities each year. Cadets consume more than 374,000 gallons of milk, 376,000 gallons of juices and punch, 103,000 pounds of chicken, 23,340 pounds of peanut butter, 251,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables and 14,500 pounds of oatmeal annually.

Cadets march into Mitchell Hall nine abreast through doors on the east and west ends. After they take their seats, they are served family style and finish the meal in 20 minutes. To serve the meals quickly, all cold food items -- bread, salad, beverages, etc. -- are placed on tables and hot carts are positioned by the tables before the cadets arrive. One waiter is assigned to 10 tables, and the cadets receive their hot food within two to three minutes after sitting down.

A first-class cadet at each table is designated as the "table commandant." A fourth-class cadet seated at the foot of the table pours beverages and passes food. Even though they have these duties, the fourth-classmen cadets have plenty of time for a good meal.

The 10th Services Division oversees operations at the cadet dining facility, and more than 200 civil service employees operate the dining hall.

(Current as of April 2009)