FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Army graders are on post today to evaluate the dining facility at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School for the ongoing Philip A. Connelly Awards.

The facility recently took the top spot in the awards' IMCOM Atlantic Region's Civilian Garrison category and is now competing against the other finalists on the international level.

Established in 1968, the awards are named for the late Philip A. Connelly, a former International Food Service Executives Association president who championed the organization's sponsorship of the awards. Categories in the annual awards include Battalion and Brigade, Dining Facilities Small and Large, Field Kitchens, National Guard and Army Reserves.

"The Philip A. Connelly competition is an award for excellence in food service," said Sgt. Major Reginald Uzzell, one of the graders visiting the post this week. "We look at everything from administration to account management to food presentation."

He said graders evaluate two meals, breakfast and lunch, served in a single day. Among the criteria considered are supervision and training, administration, headcount procedures, food preparation and quality, command support and appearance.

"We look at their total preparation," he said. "Everyone has a different flavor that they bring to the fight. When feeding Soldiers, they try to do the best job they can, and prepare the best meal, the best looking meal and the best sanitized meal possible."

"(The evaluators) want to find out how well the dining facility staff synchronizes all of those requirements in a seven-hour time period," said John Nelums, quality assurance evaluator with the Directorate of Logistics for Fort Jackson. "This is the all-Army super bowl for dining. It lets folks know what the expectations are on post."

Nelums said this is the second time Fort Jackson has performed well in the Connelly Awards. In 2008, the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment DFAC was named best large garrison DFAC Armywide by the Phillip A. Connelly Awards, the first time in the program's history the post has received this honor.

The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program is governed by the Army Food Service Program, and co-sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association and the Department of the Army.

The Connelly Awards evaluations began in April, when judges visited the facility to review its standards of food preparation. Uzzell said the winners of this year's trials should be announced in January.