DAF announces 2024 Hennessy food services awards 

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Department of the Air Force announced its 2024 John L. Hennessy Trophy Awards for food service excellence March 4. 

The awards, in their 68th year, are presented to installations with the best food service programs 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’s winners are: 

Region 1 (East):  22nd Force Support Squadron, McConnell AFB, Kansas, Air Mobility Command 

Region 2 (West):  374th Force Support Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, Pacific Air Forces 

Air Force Global Strike Command Best Missile Feeding Operation:  90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming  

U.S. Air Forces in Europe Food Service Small Site Award Winner:  701st Munitions Support Squadron, Kleine Brogel AB, Belgium 

Region 2 winners 374th Force Support Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, Pacific Air Forces. Congratulations!
Region 2 winners 374th Force Support Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, Pacific Air Forces. Congratulations! 
To select the best of the best, the Air Force Services Center dispatched evaluation teams consisting of AFSVC food and beverage experts and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation culinary professionals. The teams conducted evaluations of the top four nominated food operations in each region.  

During their visits, the evaluation teams encountered teamwork, consistent quality, clean inviting atmospheres and pride, said Cynthia Woods, Region 1 team chief and AFSVC Air Force Food and Beverage Plans, Procedures and Strategic Initiatives chief. 

“All the facilities we visited were outstanding, and each one stood out in its own way,” said Tony Kaszuba of the restaurant foundation, a Region 2 evaluator. “If I had to narrow it down, I would say the best things we saw were attention to detail, outstanding customer service and pure ownership to their mission of ‘fueling’ our Airmen.” 

When speaking with customers to get feedback on their dining experience, it wasn’t just the nutritious, satisfying meals they appreciated, Woods said.  

Region 1 winners 22nd Force Support Squadron, McConnell AFB, Kansas, Air Mobility Command. Congratulations!
Region 1 winners 22nd Force Support Squadron, McConnell AFB, Kansas, Air Mobility Command. Congratulations! 
“At McConnell, for example, guests really appreciated the simple ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’ greeting upon arrival and loved the communication between servers and customers while preparing food,” she said. 

Food quality and hospitality stood out across all the bases, Kaszuba said.  

“No matter how difficult a day an Airman was having, when they left the (dining facility) they were well nourished, served with a smile and ready to conquer the next task,” he said. 

The evaluators also found innovation during their visits. 

“A great customer service initiative we saw was a made-to-order system in which Airmen could place an order and come back and pick up their items. This is good for people who don’t have a lot of time but are looking for a customized meal,” Kaszuba said. 

Woods said she really appreciated that one of her region’s dining facilities had an Airman’s Corner with televisions and air hockey which made for a more inviting and relaxing area for guests. 

Additionally, that DFAC team had partnered with the base chapel to host gaming sessions during lunch. 

“It was amazing to see the cohesion with various ranks sharing a meal, gaming and socializing,” she said. 

In addition to identifying the best dining facilities, the evaluation teams identified food service professionals who had “proven exemplary in their day-to-day duties and have shown the highest standards of professionalism, attitude and culinary skill,” said Col. Carolyn Ammons, AFSVC commander. 

These individuals were then nominated as Hennessy Traveler Association award nominees with the opportunity to receive a week of all-expenses-paid culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio. 

“This enhanced industry training from highly esteemed professionals will heighten and sharpen their food service skills,” Ammons said. 

HTA award nominees are: 

Region 1 (East): Senior Airman Jocelyn Pacheco from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; Senior Airman Eliakim Anes from Eglin AFB, Florida, and Senior Shayne Nacino from McConnell AFB, Kansas  

Region 2 (West): Airman 1st Class Sophia Plugge from F.E. Warren AFB; Senior Airman Makenna Greenlee from Nellis AFB, Nevada, and Airman 1st Class Mason Gaskins from Yokota AB 

Missile Feeding Operations: Senior Airman Obed Rascon from F.E. Warren AFB, and Staff Sgt. Abdulrauf Muhammad from Minot AFB, North Dakota 

USAFE Small Sites: Staff Sgt. Keven Fears from Kleine Brogel AB and Senior Airman Paige Giebfried from Volkel AB, Netherlands 

The HTA winner from each region will be announced during culinary training in San Antonio. 

“This is the Air Force’s 68th annual continued partnership between our industry hospitality and military food and beverage programs,” said Jim Krueger, AFSVC Air Force Food & Beverage chief. “Our military F&B programs are annually influenced by what we know is the longest running, continued knowledge exchange with our industry and military participants. Big thanks to all of our volunteer evaluators and our installations seeking the ultimate confirmation of their food and beverage excellence!”