Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship USNS Comfort was recently recognized for its outstanding food service program as a recipient of the annual Capt. David M. Cook award for food service excellence in the small afloat category for the second time since 2006.
MSC Atlantic Commodore Captain Janice G. Smith presented the award to the food service team on July 7, 2021. Steward Cook Evon Daley accepted the award on behalf of the team. What a surreal moment; one of the best feelings I’ve had in a very long time, Daley said. “Winning the award during a pandemic is special because we were able to put our own fears aside and come to work every day to ensure a good, well-balanced diet was available to the ship’s entire crew; so that, they could maintain a strong immune system – An accomplishment we did as a team, and I could not be more proud of my teammates.”
This year’s win is a true testament to the power of great leadership by the master of the Comfort, Captain Andrew Lindey; Steward Cook Evon Daley; Junior Supply Officer Theresa Dubois; Second Cook Felix Short; Assistant Cook Dionte Delbridge; Cook Baker Anthony Livara; and Steward Utility workers Joseph Im, Shaquita Lawrence, and Marco A. Palacios, Smith said.
“Comfort’s food service program is not just a job; it’s a calling, providing food that empowers and strengthens the ship’s CIVMARS and MTF personnel in a positive direct way that other activities can’t match. Comfort’s food service team’s never ending mission of providing daily comfort and nutritional food selections is a demonstration of a servant’s heart, caring for those you feed and taking pride in healthy dishes that fuel the soul. People can live without many things, television, internet, music, sports; but, never can they live without food.”
MSC’s food service competition is comparable to the Navy’s Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Award – An award that encourages friendly competition among units and challenges culinary teams to consistently demonstrate outstanding daily upkeep, sanitation, safety, food service equipment and administration, inventory management, food preparation, customer surveys, and financial accountability while simultaneously delivering high-quality nutritious foods that exceed customer service expectations, according to the Navy.
Comfort’s customer surveys, completed in 2020, confirmed that the food service team is committed to producing excellent meals while at the same time is dedicated to providing outstanding customer service to both the civil service mariners and military treatment facility personal who serve aboard the hospital ship said Christopher D. Jones, MSC’s Foodservice Policy and Systems Management.
MSC established the Food Service Management Excellence Award in 1992 to improve the quality of MSC shipboard food service operations and to formally recognize the civil service mariners responsible for outstanding management of shipboard food service operations. In 2006, the award was renamed as the Capt. David M. Cook Food Service Excellence Award, named after Capt. David M. Cook, MSC’s director of logistics from 1995 to 1998.
The award recognizes the challenge of achieving the highest standards of culinary skill and nutrition in the food served to soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and CIVMARS aboard its vessels. The award also acknowledges the contribution shipboard food service professionals make in order to maintain high morale and fitness to accomplish the ship’s missions.
Comfort was one of four ship winners. The other three were in the following categories: medium afloat – USNS Yukon (T-A0 202); large afloat – USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4); and hybrid afloat – USS Frank Cable (AS 40).