Fort Polk Facility Considered For Army’s Best Dining Hall
Sgt. 1st Class Shelia Cook accepts a certificate of recognition on behalf of the facilityÕs placement as finalists in the Small Garrison Category.

The 1st Combat Support Battalion Dining Facility at Fort Polk, La., is in the running for a Philip A. Connelly Award for Excellence in Army Food Service. The award sets out to improve food service professionalism and quality of food service for Soldiers, and recognizes excellence in dining facility operations.

Of three levels consisting of the Installation, West Region and Department of the Army stages, the facility is currently being considered at the third – and highest – DA level.

The hall is one of the top five Army dining facilities in its category worldwide. Competing with facilities in Korea; Stuttgart, Germany; Fort Riley, Kan.; and Camp Rudder (a U.S. Army Ranger camp at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.), the facility at Fort Polk sets a standard of excellence that its competitors will have to match, said Sgt. Maj. Raymond Arnold.

“This is a tough job,” said Arnold. “All five competitors are extremely knowledgeable in all areas of food service operations.”

He pointed out it is often the minor flaws that are a determining factor in who wins this tough competition.

Excitement and a sense of pride filled the hall when staff gathered before Arnold and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jack C. Van Zanten, both sponsors from the U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School, and Kenneth Kuscher, a civilian from the International Food Service Executives Association.

The three sponsors, who travel the world to evaluate the facilities, passed out certificates of recognition following an evaluation that lasted all morning.

Also known as the Cajun Inn, the dining hall falls into the active Army small dining facility category. A hall in this category serves 400 meals or less daily. Inside the immaculate hall, awards and trophies gleam. The facility’s staff seem to take as much pride in their service on a daily basis as they do during an evaluation.

Facilities can score as many as 1,000 points in their evaluations and are assessed in cleanliness, management, service, and more.

“This is like the Super Bowl,” said Arnold. The 1st CSB facility is the first of five to be evaluated, and the winner of the award will be announced around Dec. 20.