USO Kadena Cooks Up Their Dream Kitchen to Better Serve the Military Community

Kadena Air Base, OKINAWA, Japan. USO Kadena opens a new kitchen to create a welcoming space to connect service members and their families to new traditions and great food. Thanks to the American Welfare & Works Association (AWWA), USO Kadena received a generous grant in 2022 to renovate an existing space inside the center to build a multi-functional kitchen, storage, and seating area to be the center of communication and connection.

“The USO Kadena kitchen is not just a place to prepare a meal but also a symbol of our community,” said USO Kadena Center Manager Micah Taylor. “It serves as a reminder of our USO mission, which is to create a home away from home for men and women in uniform, and the importance of supporting them and their families. The kitchen helps to create a place where service members can come together to share a meal, socialize, and relax.” Funding provided by AWWA is generated from the member spouse organizations, including the Army Community Group on Okinawa, the Okinawa Enlisted Spouses’ Club, the Kadena Officers’ Spouses’ Club, the Marine Officers’ Spouses’ Club, and the Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Club on Okinawa. Each organization comprises military spouse volunteers committed to serving the military community.

In 2022, USO Kadena served over 79,000 patrons between center visits and program participants, with an average of 2,000 center visits per month, and it is expected to surpass this number in 2023. “A kitchen in USO Kadena increases the ability of our staff and volunteers to provide better support and service to our service members and their families,” said USO Okinawa Area Director J. Phil VanEtten. “It provides USO Kadena’s team with capabilities we have not previously enjoyed. When we had food programs in the past, USO Kadena was required to cater the food or prepare the food in another location. The addition of this kitchen will not only make many stomachs happier, but it will improve the efficiencies and can use that previously lost time in more productive ways. I could not be happier about this kitchen and our staff and volunteers who made it happen! We want to spend a very special thank you to the members and leadership of the AWWA. We could not have built this kitchen without their support.”

It is often said that the kitchen is the hub and heart of a home. The selfless contributions of AWWA, USO staff, and volunteers have created a modern and practical space for our patrons to meet, catch up, and hang out while enjoying a homemade meal or a hot cup of coffee. “With the support of AWWA and the help of our wonderful volunteers, we have built a kitchen with so much love and care,” said Taylor. “The new kitchen is equipped with new appliances and modern amenities, making it a warm and inviting space for everyone. We are proud of our volunteers, who have worked tirelessly to ensure the kitchen is a comfortable and welcoming space for all. Their hard work has paid off, as the kitchen is now a beautiful and functional space that the community will enjoy for years to come.”

USO staff and volunteers dedicated weeknights and weekends to completing this project in less than three months. USO Kadena celebrated the grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and treated guests to an assortment of home-baked goods made with love from the kitchen.

Military service members and their families can learn more about upcoming activities and events at or visit us at

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