CT, UNITED STATES
Story by Maj. David Pytlik
HARTFORD, Conn. – Army Culinary Specialists (92G) from the 143rd Military Police Company and 192nd Military Police Battalion competed in the 2022 Connelly Cup at Camp Nett, Niantic, Connecticut, Jan. 8, 2022.
According to the Army Quartermaster’s website the Connelly Program is the “personification of food service excellence executed by culinary specialists resulting in the presentation of extremely gratifying dining experiences across all Army food service platforms in garrison and field environments.”
Judges from National Guard Bureau and the U.S. Army Quartermaster School descended on snowy Niantic to assess the team’s proficiency in food service and everything else that goes into supporting field feeding operations.
“The Connolly itself is one of the logistics awards programs we have to recognize, distinguish, and show respect towards our 92Gs that work hard every day, but unless you don’t get any food, you don’t notice it,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dawn Broe, food service advisor for National Guard Bureau. “It’s a program to honor the 92Gs and their mission.”
Units are graded according to a stringent checklist of criteria that look at every aspect of food preparation, serving, field sanitation and supporting functions.
According to Broe, there are 11 sections the units are graded on which include everything from the convoy of the food, completeness of paperwork and licensure, delivery of a proper safety brief, and the overall training of the unit and its Soldiers.
For soldiers who have spent time in the field in austere weather conditions, they know the importance of a good hot meal.
“Me personally, I feel like field feeding can make or break a drill weekend or a training event. If you’re out in (cold or wet) weather nothing gets better than a hot meal,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Berube, state food advisor. “If you’re having a bad day at training, a good meal can change your whole mentality.”
A good, hot meal is just one part of what it takes to keep a soldier effective and in the fight. Food service personnel are also the meal planners for their units. This all fits into the bigger picture of the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness operating concept.
“Food service is very, very important to the military because of the (Holistic Health and Fitness program, which includes the ACFT.) It has to do with sleep, eating healthy, recognizing nutritional values. It’s a whole picture of a Soldier and how they can improve themselves,” said Broe. “It’s very important for a Soldier to eat healthy and eat well, get their sleep and exercise in order to perform their best.”
The Connolly Cup competition is takes place over a lengthy period where units are identified at local or state levels to compete at the regional, component level before reaching the Department of the Army level.
“At the NGB level we send out teams to evaluate them and the top four of them will move on to the DA level,” said Broe. “Today we are doing the DA level, so Connecticut has made it all the way, the 143rd MPs made it all the way up to the DA level.”
As for the stakes, there’s more on the line than plaques and bragging rights.
“It’s DA-level now, we are the best of the best, top of the Guard. If we nail this, we won $10,000 for winning the regional, to purchase new kitchen equipment,” said Berube. “If we win this, we win another $40,000 and send some of the Golfs to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley for a week.”