News: Ready First Café to represent Fort Bliss at Connelly Award Program
Story by Spc. Jessica Luhrs-Stabile
EL PASO, Texas - Soldiers of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team’s, “Ready First” 1st Armored Division, Ready First Cafe, were selected as the U.S. Army Installation Management Command West Region’s winner on Aug. 11 and will represent Fort Bliss at the 2011 Philip A. Connelly Award Program, the Army’s competition for food service excellence.
The Connelly Award Program was established in 1968 and is named in honor of a past president of the International Food Service Executives Association, according to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Center Website. The program was designed to provide recognition for excellence in the preparation and serving of food in Army dining facilities and during field kitchen operations.
In March 2011 the Ready First Café was nominated to represent Fort Bliss after receiving top reviews from the Fort Bliss food service office. Following this nomination the Café took part in the IMCOM-West competition in June 2011, during which they competed against Fort Carson, Fort Hood and Fort Sam Houston. In August 2011 the Ready First Café was named to winner of IMCOM-West.
The next level of competition for the Café is a Department of the Army level inspection for the Connelly Award against the best Dining Facilities the Army has to offer.
During the competitions the Ready First Café, which is responsible for serving more than 1,500 soldiers a day, was graded on food preparation, account and menu management, facility cleanliness and soldier acceptability of the food.
According to Chief Warrant Officer Katrina Freemon, the “Ready First” food adviser, the staff of the Ready First Café has spent months preparing for the various levels of competition.
During those months the 90 soldiers perfected the menu and reinforced the basic food service concepts and policies, which the Army Food Service Program was founded on, she said.
“I feel proud of my soldiers and the work which they have done,” said Freemon. “It is important for all soldiers to know that what they do every day for the United States Army is important, this program gives food service personnel across the Army the opportunity to shine.”
Her soldiers are looking forward to the challenge of competing against the best Dining Facilities the Army has to offer.
“It is an honor, exciting and to an extent scary to have been nominated,” said Cpl. Michael Salter, an Administration Clerk with the Ready First Café. “All eyes are on us now but we’re up for the challenge.”