Soldiers serving as food service specialists at West Fort Hood's Consolidated Dining Facility have an opportunity to further their education thanks to a unique partnership between the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade and Central Texas College (CTC).
Due to their demanding work schedule providing daily meals to West Fort Hood's Soldiers, the food service specialists are often not able to attend regular college classes. This partnership with CTC allows the facility's staff to pursue college credits toward an associate's degree.
The West Fort Hood dining facility utilizes one of CTC's many degree programs, allowing Soldiers to improve their careers and prepare them for the civilian workforce. In doing so, the brigade permits the college to conduct classes in the dining facility for approximately four to six hours a week.
Pfc. Shanard Webb, a food service specialist with the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, said the classes are easily accessible and convenient.
"We can get off and go straight to class," Webb said. "It fits into our schedule."
Many of the Soldiers are taking classes in culinary arts, and the classes are broken down into six-week semesters. In their first weeks of the semester, the soldiers study classes like nutrition and Introduction to Hospitality.
Soldiers can also use the classes to gain awareness for their career field and obtain college credit to apply to other institutions and degrees.
Anthony Roscoe, a chef instructor with Central Texas College, is a retired Army master sergeant who served as a food service specialist. He said the CTC classes at the West Fort Hood dining facility have been a huge success.
Currently, the West Fort Hood DFAC is the only dining facility on post using the program, but Roscoe hopes the program's success, increased participation, convenience and accessibility will open the door for the program across all seven dining facilities on Fort Hood.
Spc. Jonathan Tolbert, a food service specialist with 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, wants to learn the business facet of food service. Tolbert said he learned a lot from the instructors' knowledge of business and professionalism, and he plans on using the classes as electives for a future degree.
Webb and Tolbert believe the classes have made them better in their work, and allow them to apply it to culinary arts.
According to Central Texas College, the associate's degree is a 60-credit hour program, featuring classes in food safety, menu management, American and international cuisine, purchasing for hospitality operations, and an internship.
A fact sheet provided by Central Texas College says the school is a top associate-level school among military service members using Tuition Assistance. Nearly 6,500 students at Fort Hood took CTC classes on post in 2013-14. The college has 25 U.S. locations and more than 140 locations worldwide on military installations.