EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Every year, Dining Facilities around the Air Force work around the clock to ensure they meet the culinary needs of their Airmen and civilian personnel, which in-turn ensures they meet the requirements to be nominated for the Air Force Hennessy Award.
John Lawrence Hennessy was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as chairman of the War Food Committee to develop food service systems capable of sustaining millions of military personnel. At the time of his death, he was working to have a food service competition which would inspire better management and command support of food service.
The Hennessy Award program reflects the dedication, pride and fellowship of the civilian food service industry and the Air Force aiding in improving the Air Force way of life.
This year, for the 61st Anniversary of the Hennessy awards program, Eielson’s own DFAC secured the Pacific Air Forces nomination.
“The Hennessy Award is a nomination for the best dining facility in the Air Force,” said Staff Sgt. Sarah Baker, the 354th Force Support Squadron dining facility assistant manager. “The nomination package goes over everything to include how our dining facility looks, how we run our manning, training, food and cleanliness, to name a few.”
Three evaluators, two non-military affiliated and one master sergeant, will visit the DFAC to go over the requirements in person; taking all of the components of the nomination package into account.
From Baker’s perspective, the award can be compared to the whole Airman concept, except she said it’s a whole DFAC aspect; showing excellence in all we do. Preparing for the award is simply fine-tuning what they already do on a daily basis.
“We really make sure we have our ducks in a row,” said Baker. “We already do what we are supposed to, we just have to ensure we stick to the plan and not deviate from anything.”
Airman Terrance Allen, a 354th Force Support Squadron food service apprentice, said Eielson is his first base and this is his first taste of what a Hennessy Award nomination process entails.
“You read about the Hennessy Award in your Career Development Courses,” said Allen. “To actually be nominated for the award is such a different feeling. We worked hard to get nominated and our hard work is paying off.”
Enjoying what you do plays a big role in ensuring your customers are happy. Allen said he loves cooking, but creating a bond with others he works with is an “awesome” aspect to the job.
“I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces when your product comes out as good as you hoped it would,” said Allen. “Hearing compliments on food you’ve prepared really helps keep you motivated.”
The DFAC didn’t work alone to achieve this milestone, it was a base-wide effort to secure their nomination.
“From wing leadership down to us, the entire base contributed to this nomination,” said Baker. “Leadership comes in once a month to eat and see how their people are being fed. We make sure our products are at 100 percent and help to ensure the mission gets completed.”
It’s important that each person involved understands what the nomination means for the DFAC; and for each person, it means something a little different. Baker said having Airmen understand what they are working toward drives their motivation.
“Having more people and more eyes on the floor helps us catch the small mistakes and ensures we are performing as well as possible,” said Allen. “Measuring ingredients correctly, removing and replacing pans when they are low on food and making sure the line is as neat as possible are contributing factors to the nomination. A tiny detail can make a big difference.”