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February 8, 2013

Nellis dining facilities compete for Hennessy Award

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Airman 1st Class Monet Villacorte
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Crider, 99th Force Support Squadron services journeyman, hands a plate of food to an Airman at the Crosswinds Dining Facility, Feb. 5, on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The Crosswinds at Nellis is competing to receive the Hennessy Award which is presented to Air Force installations having the best food service program in the Air Force.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 99th Force Support Squadron’s dining facilities are competing against dining facilities from 12 other bases in the Air Force for the Hennessy Award.

The Hennessy Award is the most prestigious award an Air Force dining facility can receive. Along with the award, the winners will also receive a trip to Chicago to meet with industry leaders in food and beverage services.

The 99th FSS’s dining facilities had to strive for the best food service operation in the region for Air Combat Command before being selected to compete for the Hennessy Award.

“We had to submit a package for our facility to get selected for the best food service operation in our region,” said Master Sgt. William Bailey, 99th FSS food service section chief. “Once we won, the Hennessy Award was the next goal.”

The dining facilities have made improvements to better support Airmen and their needs such as better food quality and choices.

“Providing these new enhancements will make the 99th FSS food services a prime contender for the award,” Bailey said.

“We have come a long way by improving [many] of our processes. We are a lot more efficient than we were in previous years,” Bailey said. “[Our staff has] figured out a way to offer our customers better food variety by adding [several] enhancements to our menus that no other bases are currently [providing] such as our fruit bar, and the customers love it.”

In order to help the Air Force and the Department of Defense save funds, food service facilities are doing their part to train incoming Airmen timely and effectively using untraditional methods. This shows the resourcefulness of the dining facilities which could be a key attribute for winning the award.

“We realize that the DOD doesn’t have the funding we used to for sending Airmen to training programs, so we had to find some untraditional methods to get that same training,” Bailey said. “We take the experiences we have within the dining facility, and we cultivate it into a training program which has turned out to be pretty effective.

“The normal uptime for an Airman is anywhere between three to six months, and we’re getting them trained on shift in a little over a month,” Bailey said. “We cut about 70 to 80 days off the training time by focusing on ‘on the job training’ and giving them real world experiences as opposed to giving them a theoretical training environment.”

Along with providing Airmen with new choices and providing constructive training, there are special events and meals the facilities host to boost morale for them and their families — like the deployed spouse’s family dinner held monthly at the Crosswinds Inn.

“[This event] gives spouses the opportunity to be with their family members to eat a nice home-cooked dinner, relax and [have] fellowship with other deployed spouses,” said Ramona Gantz, 99th FSS Crosswinds Inn dining facility manager. “We also do holiday meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We go above and beyond to make it really nice for the Airmen and make them feel like they’re at home,” she added.

Win or lose, the dining facilities here will continue to provide Airmen and their families with great customer service and good food.

“The only things that will ever stop us from doing our job are a power outage to the whole base; if there is absolutely no fire that we can make and there’s not a pan or pot anywhere to be found. Anything short of that, we will open our doors and provide a meal for our Airmen,” Bailey said.




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