LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, AR, UNITED STATES
Story by Airman Cherise Vaught
The 19th Force Support Squadron was recently recognized as the recipient of the 2022 Air Force John L. Hennessy Food Service Excellence Award for Region 1 – an annual award presented to installations with the best Food Service Programs in the Air Force.
The Hennessy Award is presented to a unit that sustains excellence in food service management, force readiness support, food quality, employee and customer relations, resource conservation, training and safety awareness.
The evaluation team for the award is comprised of Air Force Services Center food and beverage experts and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation civilian culinary professionals. The team conducted comprehensive virtual evaluations of the top four nominated installation food service operations in each region.
In addition to the unit-level accolade, Senior Airman Tyra Felton, 19th FSS food service apprentice, earned an individual Hennessy Travelers Association (HTA) nomination. This individual award is given to those who display the highest standards of professionalism, attitude and culinary skills.
“There’s no ‘I’ in team,” Felton said. “If we didn’t all work together as a team, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this award. The knowledge that our Airmen have in our facility is really amazing.”
As a food service apprentice, Felton is responsible for preparing and serving meals while ensuring food protection and sanitation measures are followed within the dining facility.
Felton said that the mentorship she’s received from her leadership helped motivate her to achieve the HTA nomination, and it played an important role in her accomplishment.
Tech Sgt. Dorothy James, 19th Force Support Squadron dining facility manager, is one of Felton’s colleagues who has witnessed her growth and helped shape her into the Airman she is today.
“Airman Felton is very vocal and determined in what she wants,” said James. “Anything that she wants, she seeks out and gets…that’s what I really like about her.”
Several hours were spent on Zoom calls conducting a virtual walk through of the operations to ensure a thorough evaluation was accomplished.
“I had Airman Felton and her wingmen walk around with the evaluators and they answered all their questions,” James said. “I really like that aspect of the evaluation because it shows that our Airmen know what they’re doing and they can speak on behalf of our facility.”
HTA nominees are afforded an opportunity to receive a week of all expenses paid culinary training at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas. This training from industry professionals will enhance and sharpen their food service skills and their love for business.
“It may sound cliché, but hard work pays off,” Felton said. “I look forward to bringing back the skills I’ll learn at culinary training to Little Rock to make our dining facility even better.”