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162nd a finalist for prestigious food services award

Tech. Sgt. Tony Jurado makes desert for members of the 162nd Fighter Wing during the February unit training assembly, Feb. 11. The wing’s dining facility and staff were visited over the drill weekend by an evaluation team for the Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Food Service Award – the Air National Guard’s highest honor for food service. The 162nd is one of two finalists in the competition. Though the team awarded the unit’s food service with a rating of “Excellent,” the winner won’t be announced until March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

Tech. Sgt. Tony Jurado makes dessert for members of the 162nd Fighter Wing during the February unit training assembly, Feb. 11. The wing’s dining facility and staff were visited over the drill weekend by an evaluation team for the Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Food Service Award – the Air National Guard’s highest honor for food service. The 162nd is one of two finalists in the competition. Though the team awarded the unit’s food service with a rating of “Excellent,” the winner won’t be announced until March. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Hollie Hansen)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Hanging in military dining facilities around the world are placards that read, "Through these doors pass the best fed troops." At the 162nd Fighter Wing dining facility here the sign is more than a greeting - it's virtually a statement of fact.

The Arizona Air National Guard unit at Tucson International Airport is one of two finalists in competition for the Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Food Service Award - a competition among all 88 wings of the Air National Guard.

Over drill weekend, Feb. 11-12, a five-member evaluation team inspected the unit's dining facility to assess kitchen operations; serving and dining; training personnel and readiness; sanitation, repair and maintenance; and management. The facility staff - Airmen assigned to the 162nd Force Support Squadron - earned an overall rating of "Excellent" from the team.

"We get a lot of award nomination packages," said Nick Ebert, the evaluation team chief. "To be in the top two of 88 dinning facilities is an accomplishment in itself. I think there is a great team here and they should be proud of themselves. This wing has won this award in the past and the flight always stacks up to be one of the top five in the country."

Ebert and his team will now award point values to each inspection category and a winner will be announced in mid-March with the endorsement of the Air National Guard director of manpower, personnel and services.

With the award comes the title of Best Dining Facility in the Air Guard. It also means that the winners will be invited to the active duty's John L. Hennessy Food Service Awards Banquet in May which coincides with the National Restaurant Food Show in Chicago where the winners will also be guests.

Before their departure, the inspectors recognized five professional performers from the squadron; Tech. Sgt. Tony Jurado, Tech. Sgt. Raul Verdugo, Staff Sgt. Rachel Rosczyk, Staff Sgt. Svetlana Sevciuc and Airman 1st Class Michael Labrecque.

Senior Airman Patrick Mickey was singled out as the Air National Guard Excellence Nominee. He will be invited to attend the Culinary Institute of America education program in St. Helena, Calif., next November.

"We feel like we did very well and we're happy for our top performers," said Master Sgt. Rick Talvy, dining facility manager. "It was a lot of hard work. Our folks had excellent dress and appearance, they used proper techniques in food service preparation - the evaluation team commented numerous times on their professionalism."

According to Talvy, the Disney Award is clearly an honor for any unit, but he says his team's primary motivation comes from elsewhere.

"Well-fed troops are more productive, and we realize that we provide this service for them. We appreciate all of the wing members who come in for lunch during drill. It shows how much they appreciate us. They make all of this possible," Talvy said.