SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. –
The 127th Forces Support Squadron’s Services team received the Air National Guard’s Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney Award for operating the best dining facility in the ANG. In early March, a team of ANG inspectors visited Selfridge to observe food preparation, review records, interview Airmen and – perhaps most importantly – have lunch in the unit’s dining facility. The award was announced in late March.
"Our Services Airmen take great pride in providing a nutritious and delicious meal to the wing every month," said Lt. Col. Lisa Boggs, 127th FSS commander. “Winning the Disney award is confirmation of the skill and the teamwork that our Airmen bring to every meal service."
While a myriad of details goes into operating a high-level food service operation, Master Sgt. Michael Kavalunas, dining facility manager for the 127th FSS, said it is the positive energy that his team brings to the job that sets them apart.
“The positive energy creates good morale in the unit and helps everyone work together as one team. That’s what makes the difference,” said Kavalunas.
While the 127th FSS boasts excellent equipment and a great dining facility, Kavalunas says that wasn’t what the inspectors were looking at.
“What they saw was a team that was following all the health and hygiene standards, taking pride in a great meal and having a smile while they were doing it," Kavalunas said.
The Disney award is presented annually and honors the late Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Disney, a services superintendent in the Tennessee Air National Guard known for providing outstanding customer service. According to the award citation, “achieving success in the Disney competition is a reflection of pride, commitment and motivation to be the best.”
That motivation is readily found among the 25 Airmen who are assigned to the 127th FSS food services team.
“I just want to put out a good product, that’s where the satisfaction comes for me,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Walker, a shift leader in the kitchen.
According to Services Airmen, meal preparation begins as soon as one meal ends. ANG Services teams have the added challenge of operating two days a month, making planning critical to the process.
“We start with an inventory of what’s in the store room and start planning from there,” Kavalunas said. “We want to serve a great meal, but we also have to be mindful of our budget.”
Once the plan is set, the Services team creates a menu and orders food for the next month, planning to serve between 200 and 500 Airmen at lunch, depending on mission requirements.
“We adjust all the time,” explained Airman 1st Class Joshua Hatter. “I think that’s part of what is good about this team – everyone is willing to be flexible and understands it isn’t just about what I am doing, it’s about the meal we are able to provide to the Wing, to keep everybody fueled up and able to do their job.”
Hatter was a track athlete in college and said the team spirit he experiences in the military reminds him of team camaraderie embodied in team sports.
“I wanted to do something bigger than myself and we do that here,” Hatter said.
Walker said he enjoys challenging Airmen to bring their own creativity to the job.
“We follow all the guidelines for safety: food temperature, how we handle the food,” Walker said. “But if there is an opportunity for someone to get a little creative with an ingredient or they want to get some extra training, we want try to accommodate that.”