Working in Alaska: Mess Hall Food

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Friends Forever

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Mess Hall Food

I am working at an Alaska Seafood Processing Plant

Mess hall food at the processing plant where I work in Alaska.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

I am a Filipina working in Alaska. I am a Dual Citizen – USA and Philippines.

I’ve been asked by quite a few people about what types of food we (the workers) eat here in Alaska. We get Mess Hall Food, let me tell you about it.

The company that I work for covers the cost of all of our food (and also our lodging). They have a team who cooks our mess hall food and serves it. So, the food is all free if you eat at the Company Mess Hall.

This includes 3 meals per day. It also includes snacks. Snacks during the daytime, nighttime, and even midnight snacks. Sometimes the food operation runs 24/7, it just depends on how busy the plant is and how many shifts are working.

You can eat any Mess Hall Food that you want whatever is available in the Mess Hall. You can also eat any amount you want, but you should eat what you take, not waste it.

Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are also provided for free. It is cold here in Alaska, especially for a Filipina who is used to hot temperatures!

Do all of the workers eat Mess Hall Food?

Many workers will eat mess hall food, like me. Many people also try to skip eating there because as I have hard around the plant (tsismis)… “Mess Hall Food sucks.”

In a way that is true. The Chef has the ingredients to prepare a good meal but it doesn’t turn out that way sometimes.

Mess Hall Food

Poor Cooking Examples

For example, sometimes they cook Chicken Asado (yeah, they serve some Filipino dishes here). It looks good, but when you eat it you need a chainsaw just to cut the chicken. It is just too darn hard. Overcooked. They might need to boil or pressure cook the chicken first, before putting all the ingredients into it.

I am really not a good cook on Filipino food, but I am a good cook of American food. My 10 years of living in the USA after marrying Bob taught me. With my cooking experience, I just know that they can do things to make the chicken more tender and enjoyable. They can make it more appetizing. Honestly, a fair amount of food is wasted because of this problem.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Alaska?

In another case, they had Ham for the main course and Sweet Potatoes for the side dish. When I first saw it I was excited. I felt like we had Thanksgiving Night in Alaska!

Well, what a night it was.

When I tasted the ham it just was not good. They put sauce on it, and the sauce was not good. It was so sweet.

The sweet potatoes were also not appetizing to me. They just took the sweet potatoes out of the can and put marshmallows on top, then put it in the oven. The end result just tasted bad, at least to me it did. If I were to cook that, I would first boil the sweet potatoes, put some butter and maybe a bit of brown sugar. I would transfer it to a baking dish, put the marshmallows on top and put it in the oven. Cook it until the marshamllows melt and turn a bit brown.

Viola! You have some good Sweet Potatoes.

The Mess Hall

My Favorite Day of the Week

Well, my fave day is Saturday. It is the “whole shebang”.

On Saturdays, we get Steak, mashed potatoes, and Ice Cream. They also have different kinds of pies.

On Steak Day you can order your steak Medium Well or Well done.

There are also vegetables like Corn, Asparagus, or Beans. The food is great!

Mexican Food

We also have days where they cook Mexican food. About 10% of the workforce is Mexican, I would say. Mexican food day is on Tuesdays.

Other foods

On other days we have things like:

  • Corn Dogs
  • Hot Dogs with Chili
  • Chili
  • Many others

Salmon is almost always available since we work on processing Salmon. Also, crabs are available much of the time.

I love Salmon, but looking at Salmon every day can get a bit old.


Instead of eating mess hall food, many people cook their own food, or get into groups and cook for the group.

The company provides two “cook houses” for the employees. One cookhouse is bigger than the other. The smaller one will do and we often cook there.

Workers are not allowed to cook in our rooms.

We can have a microwave oven, coffee pot, toaster and other small gadgets in our room, but no real cooking. We are also allowed a refrigerator in the room, which is nice.

My Friend Sonia

Last year we had a group of 4 close friends that included me. This year one of the group is not here, and another from the group lives in a different building. But, my friend Sonia lives in the same building as I do. Our two sons, Aaron and Jared, are also housed in the same building as I am.

I would like to thank Sonia, my dear friend, for cooking for us all of the time.

Even with her busy work schedule, she still takes the time to cook for us. Myself, Libeth and Ate Tes, among others.

Also, Elena who lets me and my boys and friends come to their room and hang out. We also eat there. Thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.

Side Note

Working here at the company I work for, the food and lodging are free, but only if you finish your end of the deal. When you sign up to work for Salmon Season you have to finish the whole season. If you quit or get fired you have to pay back the company for your food, lodging and also the airfare spent for taking you from Seattle to Anchorage, and on to King Cove where we work.

If you do not finish your season, you have to pay it all back, and it is not cheap. So, before coming to work in a place like this think about it carefully. If you think you can’t make it through the season it is probably not for you. The work can be long hours and grueling, especially a lot of repetitive work.


Feyma Martin is a Columnist here on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, she is the wife of site Publisher, Bob Martin. Feyma is originally from the Philippines, but went to the USA for 10 years after marrying Bob in 1990. Bob & Feyma moved to the Philippines to live permanently in 2000.

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Rob Ashley
Rob Ashley
5 years ago

Feyma: The food in your mess hall looks sort of fattening and it’s nice to have meat that you can actually chew, but it’s great that you get to have this experience and make some money. I know Bob misses you. Just be safe and come home. -Rob

Bob Martin
5 years ago
Reply to  Rob Ashley

Hi Rob – Feyma’s internet access is super terrible and limited. Sometimes it takes half an hour for a simple text message between us, so she likely won’t be able to reply. Sorry about that.

5 years ago

A very interesting article Feyma, keep your stories coming, as I am sure you have many followers…It seems the food is varied and plentiful, it will certainly help lift the spirits. .

5 years ago

Hi Feyma,

With the large number of Filipino workers a major concern would be the quality of the rice. For me the rice in the pictures didn’t look good. I love Filipino food, but if it is poorly prepared then it isn’t good. On salmon I find it to have a great texture and a fish that seasons really well because it basically has no taste of its own. I personally would much prefer milk fish which has a lot more flavor. I enjoyed reading your article and looking at your pictures!



Cordillera Cowboy
5 years ago

Hello Feyma,

Interesting to learn about the food in the mess hall. Your description sounds similar to our thoughts on army chow. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, But the price was always right.

Take care,

John Reyes
5 years ago

Hi Feyma – Ah, yes, the mess hall food. The mere mention of the term, mess hall, reminds me my 3 years in the Army in Germany. While cafeterias are to the civvies, it’s either chow hall or mess hall to the military. I actually liked the foods served in our company mess hall. It’s been so long since I ate at a mess hall, and I can’t honestly remember a time when I didn’t like the food served there. If there is one Army food that had been the butt of many unflattering jokes, it had to be the… Read more »


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