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45th Force Support Squadron prepares for Hennessy Evaluation

The Riverside Dining Facility staff stands in front of the dining facility with Chef Robert Irvine during his visit to Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., July 23, 2015. The Best Never Rest is the 45th Force Support Squadron's motto, and the team is eager to showcase the RDF during the Air Force Hennessy evaluation, which begins Feb. 11, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

The Riverside Dining Facility staff stands in front of the dining facility with Chef Robert Irvine during his visit to Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., July 23, 2015. The Best Never Rest is the 45th Force Support Squadron's motto, and the team is eager to showcase the RDF during the Air Force Hennessy evaluation, which begins Feb. 11, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Excitement at the Riverside Dining Facility has built as the team anticipates competing for the Air Force's prestigious John L. Hennessy Award for excellence in AF Food Service. 

The Best Never Rest is the 45th Force Support Squadron's motto, who is eager to showcase the RDF during the Air Force Hennessy evaluation, which begins Feb. 11.  The Hennessy Award is based on the entire scope of an installation's food service program exhibiting excellence in management effectiveness, force readiness support, food quality, employee and customer relations, resource conservation, training and safety awareness. 

The Hennessy Trophy Awards Program has three essential purposes. The first is to promote excellence in customer service and meal quality throughout the service by recognizing outstanding dining facility operations and management. The second is to inspire high morale, motivation, mission support, and a professional image through pride and spirited competition. The third is to improve management concepts and practices. 

The food service officer, Pete King said, "Patrick AFB has won the Air Force award three times and the Air Force Space Command award 12 times, but the competition is much tougher as a Food Transformation Initiative (FTI) Dining Facility." 

The evaluation team consists of Master Sgt. ShaErica Waters, the Air Force's Food & Beverage Manager, Mark Freeman, Senior Manager-Global Services Dining for Microsoft, and Jim Wulforst, a Hospitality Consultant formerly with Duke University.

This competition will decide the "Best of the Best" in Air Force food service.

"Dining facilities are all about boosting the quality of life for our meal card holding Airmen," said Maj. Paul Somers, 45th FSS commander. 

At Patrick AFB under the FTI campus dining concept, meal card holders can use their meal cards to eat at the DFAC, the Bowling Alley, Golf Course Snack Bar, Beach House and the Tides Club.  The variety of food options has increased significantly for meal card holders.

"The best part of being a meal card holder is the different variety of eating options offered to me," said Senior Airman Aron Escobedo. 

An added benefit of operating a FTI dining facility, one of only 12 in the Air Force, is the RDF is open to everyone on-base.  Civilians, retirees, officers and family members can eat at the RDF whenever they want, which improves the morale of the entire base, according to Somers.

Since FTI was launched in 2011, the number of meals served has increased to well over 185,000 annually. This is no challenge for the Brevard Achievement Center's staff, which has more than 20 years' experience serving RDF customers, coupled with oversight from ARAMARK's head chef. RDF customer satisfaction has shown a significant increase and was key to the 45th FSS earning the best customer satisfaction rating of any main operating base in the Air Force 2015, said King. 

"Besides the great food and friendly staff, the RDF is ideally situated overlooking the panoramic Banana River," said King. "The freshly renovated facility boasts a huge screened-in patio for individuals or groups, a specialty room for heritage events and two large dining rooms. The RDF provides fresh foods and convenience to all Airmen while providing an open and friendly atmosphere to enjoy lunch with all civilian and 45th Space Wing personnel. Needless to say, the Riverside Dining Facility is ready and anxious to host the Hennessy Award Team evaluators -- The best never rest."