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Air Guard units compete for annual food service award

  • Published
  • By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

Sioux City, Iowa -- The Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing was recently selected as one of three ANG Wings who are competing for top food service honors in 2024. The unit was inspected during their March training weekend as part of the annual competition.

VIDEO | 01:59 | Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Food Services Award

During a two-day visit to the Air Guard dining facility in Sioux City, the 185th services flight was judged on food service and hospitality excellence.

Chef Ronald Evans, with The National Restaurant Association visited Sioux City as part of a three-person inspection team. Evans explained that the evaluation looks at kitchen operations that include how food is served, customer dining experience, as well as sanitation and food service management.

“This is something that you should love,” said Evans who described how cooking is personal to him and something he considers therapy. “Embrace it and do the best you can,” Evans added.

Evans is a prior service U.S. Marine who works as a culinary instructor in the Washington D.C. area. He said he volunteers to be a part of the traveling inspection team because of his passion for preserving culinary arts as a military career filed.

“The customer can go anywhere they want,” said Evans. “We want to make sure we are giving them a quality meal.”

Each branch of the Air Force holds separate evaluations annually where kitchens from the Active-Duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard compete separately.

The Air National Guard Award, named after the late Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney, honors a single overall winner in the ANG each year. According to Evans, Sioux City is the last of three ANG units being evaluated as part of the 2024 contest that began in late January.

Evans said the winning Air Guard unit will be announced in coming weeks as the judges finish tallying their scores. The top kitchen will be invited to the Chicago National Restaurant Association food show in May where they will be awarded a giant traveling trophy.

Evans explained that a top performer from the winning unit is also selected to attend advanced training at the Culinary Training Institute of America in San Antonio, TX.

“The Airmen are the ones carrying the load,” said Evans, “That’s what I’ve seen through all three facilities is how the Airmen have been stepping up.”

The award program allows units from all 54 states and U.S. territories to vie for “Best Food Service” among 90 Air Guard units nationwide.

The evaluation is a collaborative effort among the National Guard Bureau, the National Restaurant Association, and the Culinary Institute of America. The aim of the program is to improve food quality and service throughout the military services.