News: ‘Patton’s Own’ DFAC named second best in Army
Story by Jason Chudy
CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar – The Area Support Group – Qatar “Patton’s Own” Dining Facility was named the large garrison runner-up in the 2011 Department of the Army Phillip A. Connelly Award competition.
Winning the category was the Freedom Inn Dining Facility at Fort Meade, Md.
A three-member team of Connelly inspectors were on camp in November to grade the facility on a list of 100 items, ranging from sanitation to food presentation. They inspect the top seven facilities in each of the three active Army categories, and competition is tough.
“The difference between the winner and second place can be as little as five points out of 1,000,” explained Jim Riddle of the International Food Service Executives Association.
Riddle, who spent 25 years in the Army before joining IFSEA, said he’s seen a great increase in the quality of dining facilities. “The food program is 1,000 times better than when I was in,” he said.
“It’s not about who’s best,” explained inspector Sgt. Maj. Andrea Farmer, who has 27 ½ years in Army food services, “It’s about excellence in food service. If they make the diners happy, that’s the ultimate goal.”
While this was Farmer’s first trip to the camp as an inspector, she was here on Rest and Recuperation leave in 2006. “There’s been a lot of changes,” she said, “A lot of positive changes. Now, it’s really extremely impressive. It’s a first-class dining facility.”
Camp Food Program Manager Chief Warrant Officer 2 Wayne Niehus agreed. “We take care of Soldiers coming here from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait,” he said. “Some are coming in from battle. They’re entitled to the best we can offer.”
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ellen Magras rounded out the inspection team. She said that with the Army having been on a cycle of combat deployments for nearly a decade, the Connelly inspection and award takes on more significance.
“It makes the competition more challenging,” she said. “The more you compete, the better you get at enforcing the policies and practices of Army food service.”
And ensuring that Army policies and practices are followed is made more of a challenge since most of the staff is not from the United States.
“We’ve got staff and individuals from different countries working in the dining facility,” Niehus said. “They put in tremendously long hours here.”
Joe Colon, the ITT Systems Corporation dining facility manager, said that everyone in the facility gives their all.
“We care and cook with love for the soldiers,” said Colon. “We don’t look at this as just a job. We treat it like it’s our second home.”