RED CLOUD GARRISON, South Korea - Food service specialists from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, U.S. Army Garrison Casey have brought home the 43rd Annual 8th Army and Installation Management Command Korea Philip A. Connelly Award in the large garrison dining facility category for the second time in three years.

In only its fourth year of operating the Casey Main Dining Facility, the HHD USAG Casey food service team has already received 8th Army and IMCOM-Korea Philip A. Connelly Awards in 2008 and this year. While the team is proud of its recent accomplishment, it is focused on winning its first Department of the Army trophy.

"We have a good team and they are working diligently to win," said Sgt. 1st Class Natasha Hall, food service supervisor for the Casey Main Dining Facility. "I can see the fire in their eyes and that's a good thing. Hopefully that hard work and dedication pays off."

The Casey Main Dining Facility has only five Soldiers who have been trained in food service at the Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee, Va. The majority of the staff - about 20 of them - are Korean national employees who prepare primarily American meals, and a few Korean main courses, using Army recipes. The team feeds about 300 Soldiers at each of its three daily meals.

"It's very unique," Hall said about the diverse staff. "It can be a little challenging at times, too, with the language barrier, but the guys are willing to learn and try to correct any deficiencies pointed out to them."

Hall credited the team's success to Sabrina Wilson, a retired Army food service specialist, who brings considerable experience, knowledge and expertise to her job as the Casey Main Dining Facility manager. She said Wilson spends time training the staff, particularly the Korean national employees who receive a limited amount of formal training compared to Soldiers, to ensure that all meals are prepared to Army standards.

"We do a lot of practice meals," Hall said. "We have a standard meal that we prepare (for the evaluation), so every Monday we practice that meal as if we are getting evaluated." The faire includes main courses of baked stuffed fish, honey glazed Rock Cornish hen, bread pork chops and bulgogi are rounded out with macaroni and cheese, rice, fresh lyonnaise carrots, summer squash and more.

Hall said the team is committed to preparing healthy meals for Soldiers.

"We try to produce a meal that has nutritional value and is healthy," she said. "We also prepare a low-cal plate that is 500 calories or less so that gives Soldiers who may be having a problem with their weight a better way to eat."

A combined IFSEA and Army team will arrive at Casey Garrison Oct. 15 for its initial in-brief and will conduct its evaluation of the food service operation Oct. 18. They will judge the HHC, USAG Casey dining team in the areas of food preparation, taste, nutrition, service and sanitation.

Department of the Army-level winners will be announced in Chicago at date to be determined.

The Philip A. Connelly Awards program recognizes Soldiers and Department of the Army civilian employees who rise above the Army standard and continually demonstrate excellence in food service. The program was founded in 1968 to improve food service operations and recognize the best dining facilities through the Army.

It is named in honor of the late Philip A. Connelly, past president of the International Food Service Executives Association, and is cosponsored by IFSEA and the Department of the Army.