FORT RILEY, Kan. - Families had the opportunity to enjoy a night out together without the trouble of cooking at home Nov. 19 with a Military Family Appreciation Month dinner at Cantigny Dining Facility on Custer Hill.

Capt. Matt Sacra, a Soldier with the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, his wife, Becky, and the couple's three daughters, Katelyn, 5, Ashley, 3, and Alyssa, 15 months, were among the more than 690 people in attendance for the special Family-oriented evening.

"We like that it was (Military) Family Appreciation Month, and they were doing something to recognize military Families," Becky said.

This was not the first time the Sacra Family has enjoyed a meal together at the facility.

"It's just a really great atmosphere, and it's very Family-friendly," she said. "The people are always extremely eager to help and patient with children. We came here last year for Thanksgiving, and the food is always outstanding. It's just great to be with other Families during the holidays."

Capt. Joseph Meyer, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., his wife, Kia, and their sons, Blaine, 8, and Bradley, 2, also took advantage of the Family event.

"We saw it advertised (and) thought it would be something to do on a Friday night," Kia said. "(It) seemed like a pretty good deal to us."

The Meyer Family has participated in other Military Family Appreciation Month activities including Parents Night Out.

"We really appreciate it. It gives us an opportunity in the community to do something we don't normally get to do on a regular basis, so it's really nice to be able to do things as a Family," Kia said.

This was the second year for the event and the second year the dinner was at the Cantigny DFAC.

"We may try another DFAC next year," said Becky Willis, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator with Army Community Service. "Cantigny has done such a great job both years, but it might be good to share the wealth with some other DFACs."

The purpose of the event was "to encourage Families to go out together, share an inexpensive dinner, spend quality time together, and mom nor kids have to do dishes," Willis said.

Last year's event brought out more than 540 Family members. In addition to the dinner, each Family received a gift to take home, and door prizes were given away.

Col. Kevin Brown, Fort Riley garrison commander, enjoyed the meal with Soldiers and Family members, and Riley Bear and Sgt. Riley the puppet also stopped by for photo opportunities and to visit.

"They both were excited to have pictures taken with the children and enjoyed giving and receiving hugs from the kids," Willis said.