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Little Rock, Peterson AFBs claim Hennessy awards

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --

Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and Peterson AFB, Colorado, have won the 2017 John L. Hennessy Awards for best U.S. Air Force food service operations.

Six installations from the Eastern Hemisphere (Region 1) and eight in the Western Hemisphere (Region 2) were selected as the best of the best to represent their major commands for the 2017 Hennessy awards.

The Hennessy awards were established in 1956 to promote excellence in customer service and food service support within the Air Force. Little Rock AFB represented the 19th Airlift Wing, Air Force Materiel Command, and Peterson AFB represented the 21st Space Wing, Air Force Space Command.

The U.S. Air Forces Europe small-site award winner is Volkel Air Base, Netherlands; and the Air Force Global Strike Command best missile feeding operation is F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

“Winners are selected based on their display and execution of excellence in management effectiveness, force readiness support, food quality and production, employee and customer relations, training and safety awareness.  This year marks the 61st anniversary of the Hennessy Trophy competition,” said William Spencer, the chief of food operations for the Air Force Services Activity. 

AFSVA directs food service operations for the Air Force enterprise and manages the Hennessy awards program. 

“Each base did an outstanding job and represented their installation with distinction,” Spencer said. 

In February, Hennessy evaluation teams visited installations to observe all aspects of dining operations. The teams included a senior NCO, who is an expert in food services, and two food industry leaders. 

In addition to determining Hennessy award winners, each team chose an outstanding Airman from each military-run operation as nominees for the Hennessy Traveler Association individual award. Nominees were judged on professionalism, dress and appearance, leadership, knowledge, teamwork and attitude. These individuals will have an opportunity to attend the Armed Forces Forum for Culinary Excellence hosted by the National Restaurant Association Military Foundation at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in St. Helena, California. After the training, the overall winner will be announced as the Top Hennessy traveler award winner. 

Region 1 nominees are: Airman 1st Class Khadijah Priest of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Airman 1st Class Angela Salena Bolanos of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Airman Ayana James of Hurlburt Field, Florida and Senior Airman Diana Smoak of Little Rock AFB. 

Region 2 nominees are: Senior Airman Amanda Williams of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, Staff Sgt. Eugene Galloway of Peterson AFB, Colorado, Senior Airman Shaon Morris of Travis AFB, California, Senior Airman Kelli Johnson of Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, Airman 1st Class Natalia Morris of Cannon AFB, New Mexico and Staff Sgt. Jesse Tucker of Eielson AFB, Alaska.

“Like any other award, it’s a validation that the food service operations are following standards and procedures according to Air Force guidelines. They’re the best of the best; that’s a good mantra to own,” said Master Sgt. Reginald Morrison, the AFSVA food and beverage operations manager and traveler, and escort for Region 1 installations.

The travelers devoted all of February to inspecting the food operations. Little Rock AFB is an AFSVA Food 2.0 facility, while Peterson AFB is a legacy dining facility. Food 2.0 is designed to provide greater variety, availability and quality of food while maintaining home-station and warfighting feeding capabilities. Food 2.0 operations have converted from institutional-style feeding platforms to the type of station feeding found on college campuses.

“At all the installations, food service personnel handle food well. They were all professional, but the one base that stood out to me was Little Rock (AFB),” Christie said. “Little Rock (AFB) had a real mentoring environment. They had tech sergeants and staff sergeants who made sure each person did their job. The master sergeant knew the history of everyone she supervised.”

In Region 2, Peterson AFB stood out for the commitment and enthusiasm from the top of the command chain down to the brand-new Airman, said civilian traveler Michael Sabella, the president of Food Safety Certified and industry consultant.

“The Airmen were enthusiastic and hard-working, and took responsibility for their work and the work of their fellow Airmen. That's the ultimate show of teamwork,” Sabella said. “They did not work hard because their superiors told them to. They worked hard because they knew it was important to their superiors and their fellow Airmen and wanted to excel for themselves, their peers and everyone else up to their commander.”

Peterson AFB’s attention to detail, innovative use of technology and customer service stood out for Master Sgt. Amanda Procknal, the AFSVA food and beverages manager and traveler, and escort for Region 2 installations.

“Production logs are submitted on paper and electronically. The food staff have iPads and can reference a recipe or put a recipe or procedures up on a large screen for staff meetings,” she said.

Being a traveler was a validating experience for Procknal.

“I have 13 of my 18 years of service in food service. Seeing everything come together and seeing how different bases execute the food service operation was an amazing experience,” she said. 

The installation Hennessy awards will be presented May 19, in Chicago during the National Restaurant Association Hotel and Motel Show.