SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - If you ask your father what comes to his mind when you say the phrase "Army chow," he will most likely think about black, tar-like coffee, chipped beef on toast, and other food barely fit for human consumption. However, "this ain't your father's Army anymore."

It's now official, the 45th Sustainment Brigade's K-Quad Dining Facility (DFAC) is the best large DFAC in the Pacific Region.

Installation Management Command-Pacific leadership presented the award to Col. Clay Hatcher, commander, 45th Sus. Bde., and Soldiers who work at the facility, Sept. 24.

"This facility is truly a consolidated effort," said Hatcher. "The Soldiers who work here are from various units representing the 8th Theater Sustainment Command."

Judges from the Phillip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service, who inspected the DFAC earlier in the day, were present for the ceremony.

The Phillip A. Connelly Award is a Department of the Army food service program. The International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA) and the Department of the Army co-sponsor the program, which is administered by the Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence (ACES). The program is intended to encourage improvements in the quality of food service.

The Connelly competition is divided into four categories, three of which pertain to active Army forces. Categories include small dining facilities (serving 300 or less), large dining facilities (serving more than 301), and division field kitchens, for Army National Guard Soldiers.

The 45th Sus. Bde. K-Quad DFAC is now a finalist competing in the large dining facility category at the Department of the Army level.

"Good food is a morale builder," said Brig. Gen. Mark MacCarley, deputy commanding general, 8th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC). "It always has been. It says to a Soldier, 'the Army cares about you.' The fact that the cooks, who represent almost every company within the 8th TSC, can put out and deliver great meals, three times a day, keeps Soldiers in the Army. It is a force multiplier."

The K-Quad DFAC is only designed to feed approximately 700 people a day, but it averages almost twice that. Part of the reason for its popularity is the variety of foods it serves.

"When I took over (as dining facility manager) I came up with the 14-day menu cycle," said Sgt. 1st Class Tracey Turner, 45th Sus. Bde. "We have different types of ethnic food available and six different variety lines, such as the main line, pizza bar, chicken bar, a stir fry line and a snack bar."

The variety makes the facility a hit with Soldiers around the island. For example, Sgt. Robert Griffin, A Company, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, works on Wheeler Army Airfield, but he comes to the K-Quad for lunch.

"I eat here because of the variety of foods offered here," he said.

"This is the best damned dining facility in Hawaii, period," said the 45th Sus. Bde.'s Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Ramos.

However, the facility's popularity can be a mixed blessing for food service workers.

"It is good because we love feeding Soldiers, but it is bad because my troops have to do more work," Turner said, with a smile.

Over the next four months, the DFAC will lose approximately 90 percent of its 67 cooks due to deployments. The facility will compete with six other large DFACs for the title of best in the Army. The winner will be announced in December.