The National Restaurant Association Military Foundation grew from the NRA’s decades-long partnership with the Hennessy Trophy Awards program. Established in 1957, the program honors the dedication, pride and fellowship of the military foodservice personnel.
The award is named for John L. Hennessy, a member of the National Restaurant Association board who served on the Hoover Commission to improve the efficiency of government agencies. Hennessy was a part of a task force charged with improving military feeding programs. The task force, which also included former NRA chairman Vernon Stouffer, recommended creating a competition to identify and reward the best foodservice operations. The Air Force was the first to adopt the recommendation.
The National Restaurant Association has been the program’s leading sponsor since its inception. The NRA began hosting the awards ceremony in 1958 in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago.
The NRA expanded the program in 2008 when it took over sponsorship of the Marine Corps’ Hill Award. It is named for Maj. Gen. William Pendleton Thompson Hill, the Marines’ quartermaster general from 1944 until 1955. He was dedicated to improving the quality of foodservice and created food management teams. The Marine Corps created the program in 1978.
The NRA added the Air National Guard’s Kenneth Disney Award to the program in 2010, as part of the Hennessy Awards.
In 2012, the NRA created the NRAMF to provide training and support to military hospitality programs; promote restaurant/hospitality career opportunities for veterans and their spouses; and provide small-business ownership opportunities for veterans.