By Spc. Latoya Dallas, U.S. Army Garrision Schweinfurt Public Affairs OfficeJuly 26, 2012
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- The Conn Dining Facility was announced as the winner of the "Vince Lombardi trophy" on June 29 after competing with other military operated DFACs during the 45th Annual Installation Management Command-Europe and U.S. Army Europe Seventh Army 2012 Philip A. Connelly Award competition.
The DFAC is operated by the 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, but includes Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment; 15th Engineer Battalion and 172nd Support Battalion who work together to provide outstanding service and quality food to the community.
The top players responsible for running the Conn DFAC daily and for spearheading the DFAC's win are 1st Lt. Alden Nascimento the Conn DFAC Executive Officer, Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Heckstall the Conn DFAC Manager and Staff Sgt. Madeh Lincoln the Shift Leader and Administration noncommissioned officer in charge.
In the unlikely event of entering into two categories during such a prestigious competition, the Conn DFAC was also honored as the runner-up in the field kitchen operations category. The food service personnel were guided by Staff Sgt. Steven Smalls, a field kitchen leader, in this category.
The IMCOM-Europe competition conducts a 360 degree evaluation reviewing a DFAC's administration organization, customer service, command emphasis, food preparation, food storage, receipt procedures and sanitation.
The competition was not a routine inspection or show, but more actually an assessment of a regular workday. IMCOM-Europe examines what the DFAC provides to the Soldiers, how it takes care of the community and how it conducts business every single day or as Lincoln stated, "ensures that we do our job correctly and to the Army standard."
On the day of the competition food service specialists presented the judges with perfectly garnished meals that included savory schnitzel, spicy blackened catfish or a crispy Szechuan chicken paired with a fresh California vegetable blend, zesty corn O'Brien and the meal was finished off with a luscious strawberry shortcake. The lucky judges to sample the menu were Robert Shamberger an IMCOM representative and Food Program Manager and Sgt. Maj. Michael Davis of the USAREUR Food Service.
"It's an awesome opportunity to participate for such a prestigious award. Winning this competition was a testament to the Soldier's determination and ability to achieve through training and discipline to make this kind of an impact," said Nascimento. "It's especially important to consider that we had essentially no money to work with since we have limited funding."
Just about every DFAC personnel will agree that it feels good to be acknowledged for the generally unnoticed operation of working extended hours almost every day of the year including weekends and some holidays when most of the community is out indulging in the summer or winter activities.
According to USAG Schweinfurt Food Service Supervisor, Master Sgt. Reginald Houston, what the Connelly Award comes down to is "bettering the Army Food Service Program in a community."
"I have received many comment cards that suggest change and I take them all into consideration," said Heckstall, who took over managing the DFAC in Dec. 2011. "So presently, one can observe new menu items and changes within the DFAC."
Spc. Kennadette Taylor of the 172nd Support Bn., dedicated weeks to perfecting a particular main course and entered into the competition with the understanding that she would not only be representing herself, but also the Conn DFAC and her unit.
"Wherever I am stationed or however far I progress, I have already established myself as a cook for the Army and proved my knowledge in food service as a result of the win," said Taylor. "Plus, I have bragging rights for my battle buddies stationed in other places."
"We found out that we have hidden talents and culinary artists working in our facility," said Houston. The master sergeant went on to boldly say, "due to the Connelly competition, the Soldiers have risen to a level that we did not expect. We are reaching and looking to be the best in the Department of the Army. The Soldiers are not satisfied with just a USAREUR title. They want to go to the top."
Having basked in Connelly Award glory, the DFAC personnel must now concentrate on the Department of the Army level competition that is attentively set to be held between October and December. Evaluators from Fort Lee, Va. will travel to Schweinfurt and around the world to obtain knowledge of how the food service personnel perform their job.
With all of USAREUR behind Conn DFAC, Houston welcomes the USAG Schweinfurt community to continue supporting the DFAC and see what its' Soldiers are doing by "tasting the product."
For the Soldiers working within dining facilities throughout the world the Food Advisor for the 7th Signal Brigade, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tamarcus Norman, offers a cordial challenge, "Conn DFAC dares anyone to be better."