Say thank you with commissary gift cards

FORT LEE, Va., 2017-May-12 — /EPR Retail News/ — Buying gift cards is a great way to shop for friends, relatives, and co-workers or even as a donation toward a good cause.

In theory, giving a gift card means there’s no chance you’re buying the wrong size, color or worst of all, an unwanted item that ends up gathering dust on a closet shelf.

Available in-store to eligible shoppers and online for everyone else, commissary gift cards are a great way to say thanks to military service members, with the knowledge that both you and they are getting the most out of every dollar spent through the commissary’s low prices. That’s probably why they’ve become such a popular gift since their introduction just under six years ago.

“Giving the gift of groceries through commissary gift cards continues to grow as people show their support for our military service members and their families,” said Bob Bunch, the Defense Commissary Agency’s gift card program manager. “More than three quarters of a million cards have been sold, worth more than $26 million.”

And according to Bunch, unlike some retailers’ gift cards, the commissary card enjoys an unusually high rate of redemption: more than 91 percent of all cards sold have been fully redeemed.

Here are some commissary gift card quick facts:

  • Gift cards are available at all commissaries worldwide – on a rack at full service, front-end registers – as well as at the commissaries.com website. Just use the “Place your order” button on the gift cards page.
  • Cards are good for five years from the date of purchase.
  • Only gift cards purchased online incur a shipping and handling fee. There are no fees when the card is purchased in a store.
  • There is no limit to the number of gifts cards that a purchaser can buy. However, DeCA officials recommend organizations and activities consider purchasing their cards online if they plan to buy more than 50 at a time.
  • The cards can be sent anywhere in the United States. However, cards can only be shipped to APO, FPO or DPO addresses outside the United States.
  • To check card balances, use the “Check Your Balance” button on the gift cards page.
  • For customer service questions, please call 877-988-4438, which is also found on the back of the gift card. Customers can also use this number to check the balance on their card.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Allison, DeCA’s senior enlisted advisor, the gift cards are appreciated by commissary shoppers for just about any occasion. “Commissary gift cards are a wonderful way for anyone to show appreciation and concern for a military member – whether for the holidays or any other time of year.”

About DeCA:

The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons save thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to commercial prices when shopping regularly at a commissary. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Defense Commissary Agency

Commissary opens at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida

FORT LEE, Va., 2017-Feb-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — On a crisp, cloudless morning service members and their families at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, lined up as early as 4 a.m. to be among the first to shop in their new commissary.

The day began with Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu and NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley greeting customers during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

During his speech Jeu highlighted some of the new features in the store – the most unique being the Living Well Corner.

“There’s something totally new. It’s the Living Well Corner, the first thing you see when you walk in the door,” said Jeu. “More than 1,500 items, from frozen and chilled to dry and fresh, make up the Living Well assortment.”

The Living Well Corner includes organic and natural-labeled products; it also includes non-GMO, Free-range, gluten free and no-added hormone products.

In his remarks, Haley told the crowd their new commissary was well worth the wait and thanked them for their patience during construction.

“I assure you it will be worth the wait,” he said. “Built entirely from commissary surcharges, this new facility rewards one of the strongest markets in the DeCA industry.”

That sentiment seemed to extend to the patrons as well. Ray Carter, the first customer in line, had arrived at 4 a.m., and couldn’t wait to get into the new store and see all the displays.

“It’s great to see them using the money we give them,” he said, speaking of the surcharge. “The old building was nice but this building brings everything up to 2017 standards. It’s a beautiful building and I’m looking forward to shopping here.”

The new store more than doubles the sales area of the old store at 68,831 square feet. The store features extensive produce, meat, frozen, chilled and grocery departments, an international deli-bakery, a sushi-to-go station, prepared rotisserie chicken and a customer service kiosk with two check outs. The store includes 18 regular checkouts and eight self-checkouts and a stock assortment of 18,000 line items.

Cmdr. Billy Bushman, noted that thanks to the commissary’s Living Well Center his wife would have more choices when it came to choosing gluten-free breads.

“My wife would shop this,” said Bushman. “I’m excited that the choices for gluten-free options have been expanded. This means more options for my wife.” He also noted that they can save a significant amount on their gluten-free products versus shopping outside the gate.

Shelia Fortson, whose husband is retired, drove an hour to get to NAS Jacksonville to shop the new store. “This is a privilege. I have a lot of friends who wish they had this benefit,” she said.

Both Carter and Fortson said this store was more convenient than shopping outside the gate.

“The savings and convenience are what bring me back,” said Carter. “They are open early in the morning and I can get the things I need. I’ve been doing it for years and I wouldn’t change it.”

Fortson also said the layout of the store was appealing. “I’ve shopped a lot of commissaries and this one is well-stocked,” she said. “I can find what I’m looking for.”

About DeCA:

The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)

Commissary in partnership with Military OneSource offers free reusable shopping bags to shoppers

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Oct-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — Commissary shoppers can get free reusable shopping bags imprinted with important contact information about services available to them thanks to a partnership with Military OneSource. Beginning Oct. 28, commissary patrons worldwide will receive the free shopping bags, distributed one-per-customer while supplies last. Military OneSource distributed 4,800 cases of bags to the Defense Commissary Agency.

The bags are one way the program reaches out where the military community lives, works, plays and shops. Serving over 7 million patrons per month worldwide, the commissary is a great resource to get the bags in the hands of military members and their families.

Military OneSource is a program funded by the Defense Department that provides free confidential help, tools and information to active duty, National Guard and reserve service members, their immediate family members and survivors anytime. DeCA, along with Military OneSource and National Industries for the Blind, which is providing the bags, is honored to take part in such an important endeavor.

“Military OneSource is a valued resource for our military community,” said Tracie Russ, DeCA’s director of sales. “Increasing the awareness of this resource through the distribution of bags will serve to remind seasoned military members that support is just a phone call away and perhaps, introduce the support program to new military members.”

Note: For photos on DeCA’s Flickr page, go to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/commissary/sets/72157675155342745.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Commissary

September is all about sales and promotions at Commissary

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Aug-24 — /EPR Retail News/ — Commissary shoppers will see various sales events throughout their store in September with Labor Day promotions, football fever events, Oktoberfest celebrations, case lot sales, and lots of coupons to help save even more money.

“September is a busy month for commissaries, and there are plenty of promotions available for our patrons to help them save money and maximize their benefit,” said Tracie Russ, the Defense Commissary Agency director of sales.

Commissary shoppers can easily find out about the sales and promotions by going online, where they can also enter contests and win trips. The best places to check are the Sales & Events and Exclusive Savings sections, while the case lot sale schedule is at the Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sale page.

These discounts result from DeCA’s industry partners – vendors, suppliers and brokers – who collaborate with commissaries to offer discounts beyond everyday savings. Overseas stores may have substitute events for certain promotional programs. Customers are asked to check their local commissary for details on dates and times for the following promotions:

  • Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sales are continuing through September for stateside commissaries. Each store hosts individual two- or three-day case lot sales on one weekend between mid-August and the end of September. Commissaries in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are also participating. This year’s sales recognize DeCA’s 25th birthday celebration. The agency was officially formed Oct. 1, 1991, consolidating the commissary systems of each of the military services. These sales provide commissary shoppers up to 50 percent savings on bulk buys of cereals, breakfast bars, chips, beverages, paper goods and other items. During these “parking lot” sales, commissaries also offer seasonal fresh produce on sale and provide high-value coupons for products inside the store. Look on the Case Lot Sales page for the schedule of local case lot events.
  • “It’s Football Tailgating Time!” Starting Sept. 3, commissaries will offer game-day recipes, high-value coupon booklets for discounts on football favorites and will make it easy to shop with recipe items adjacent to the fresh meats featured in the recipes. Participating brands are Kraft, Heinz, Frito Lay, Entenmann’s, Kellogg, Ball Park Franks, Johnsonville, Nabisco, DiGiorno and Tombstone. Mymilitarysavings.com will also feature promotional details to include Hot Deals, blogs, social media, e-newsletter blasts and more.
  • For Better Breakfast Month, the Kellogg Company is offering $2 off coupons worldwide (Save $2 off coffee, milk, or fruit with the purchase of any two Special K products) from Sept. 1 to 11. These coupons will also be distributed in stores by industry representatives who will demonstrate healthy recipes.
  • How’s Your Team Spirit? Starting Sept. 3 through Jan. 3, 2017, patrons who purchase four Campbell’s Chunky Soup or Chili canned items in one transaction, and present their Commissary Rewards Cards at checkout will be automatically entered to win a $100 NFL gift card. Four gift cards will be awarded each week (three in the U.S. and one overseas) for 17 weeks. Official rules will be available at Rewards Card coupon selection page starting Sept. 3.
  • Free Groceries for a Year is a Kraft Heinz promotion that will give away six prizes of $7,500 each in Commissary Gift Cards to winning commissary patrons. The online giveaway runs now through Sept. 11. Participating brands include Kraft Natural Cheese, Kraft Singles, Velveeta, Kraft Grated Parmesan, Cracker Barrel, Jell-O, Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Kraft Dinners, Kraft Salad Dressings, Kraft BBQ Sauce, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Planters, Cool Whip and Kraft Mayo. No purchase is necessary. Participation is limited to stateside customers including those in Alaska and Hawaii commissaries. For details, go to the Mymilitarysavings.com website.
  • From Sept. 12-25, commissary shoppers who cannot attend Oktoberfest in Germany can find value savings on products for their own celebrations. Commissaries have a full line of German products from chocolates, cookies, sauerkraut, mustard and red cabbage, to rich German coffee and more.
  • “Celebrate Family Values Sweepstakes.” Commissary Rewards Card users worldwide have a chance to win one of 30 $250 Commissary Gift Cards in the “Celebrate Family Values Sweepstakes.” Those who buy two Kimberly Clark products in one transaction from Sept. 15 to Oct. 23 and present their Commissary Rewards Cards at checkout, will be automatically entered to win. Details will be available Sept. 15 on the Rewards Card coupon selection page.
  • Unilever is offering its annual “Italian & American Festival of Savings”from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9. This year’s promotion features Unilever brands such as Hellman’s, Lipton, Knorr and Breyers, as well as personal care brands such as Dove, St. Ives, Vaseline, Q-Tips and Tresemme. More than 150,000 high-value in-store coupon flyers will be distributed worldwide. Unilever will donate up to $20,000 to the Fisher House based on sales from this event.
  • “Extra savings” signs will highlight discounts near mass displays throughout the commissaries: Sept. 1-25; General Mills will offer “Big G” cereal savings worldwide with coupons located adjacent to their displays; and beginning Sept. 19, the J.M. Smucker Company will offer the “Crisco Cares” deeply discounted savings from Pillsbury, Folgers, JIF and Martha White.”

“Don’t miss these hot fall savings,” Russ said. “It’s always worth the trip to your local commissary.”

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Commissary

Commissary starts this year’s fall case lot sales

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Aug-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — Smart military shoppers know the commissary has the lowest prices in town. And the really smart ones know that for a few days twice a year, stateside commissaries take savings to another level with their Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sales.

The sales take place each spring and fall, offering savings as much as 50 percent over the stores’ already low prices. This year’s fall sales are now starting, as each store hosts individual two- or three-day case lot sales during one weekend between mid-August and the end of September. Commissaries in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are also participating.

Commissaries in Europe and the Pacific, while not officially participating, may have substitute events such as sidewalk sales.

“This year’s sales recognize the Defense Commissary Agency’s 25th birthday celebration,” said Sallie Cauthers, marketing and mass communication specialist at the Defense Commissary Agency headquarters. “The actual 25th DeCA birthday celebration is Oct. 1. This special ‘parking lot’ sale is leading up to this event.” The agency was formed in 1991 in a money-saving consolidation of the commissary systems of each of the armed services as the Cold War wound down.

The sales offer big discounts in case formats similar to commercial club stores. However, commissary case lot events also offer additional “mix and match” packages of similar items in bulk-size cases. These include grocery items such as barbecue sauces, canned tomatoes, beans, certain pasta meals, cereals, snacks, water, tea and juices.

Customers will have a large variety of on-sale items to choose from, including products in the following categories:

  • Fruit snacks, pudding snack packs, granola bars, fruit bars, pastries, peanut butter and popcorn
  • Water and flavored water, teas, juices, juice mixes, sodas, sports drinks and breakfast drinks
  • Frozen pizza and sausage links
  • Chilled items to include cheeses, yogurt and yogurt mix
  • Prepackaged meats such as lunchmeat, bacon and pork loin
  • Pet supplies to include bagged and canned food, treats and cat litter
  • Pasta, barbecue and pasta sauces, spices, rice, oriental noodles and bowls, chili mix and condiments
  • Cookies, brownies, pancakes and muffin mixes; oatmeal
  • Canned fruit, vegetables, soups, tuna and chili
  • Sandwich, storage and freezer bags; paper products and cleaning supplies such as bathroom tissue, fabric sheets and laundry detergent
  • Health and beauty care including diapers, wipes, shampoo and conditioner, soaps, shaving gels and body lotions

Patrons can find their local commissary’s sale dates by visiting https://www.commissaries.com/stores/html/store.cfm?dodaac=N&page=case_lot_dates.

According to Cauthers, case lot sales are just one way DeCA continues to deliver an amazing value to the military 25 years after its establishment. “The benefit lives on today, continuing to serve our men and women at 238 stores around the world.”

Note: For a video about case lot sales, go to DeCA’s YouTube page at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tph2MkHsmdk.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Commissary

Commissary employees and patrons collect donations Feds Feed Families campaign

FORT LEE, Va. , 2016-Jul-07 — /EPR Retail News/ — Last year was a banner year for the Feds Feed Families campaign. The Department of Defense collected more than 3.2 million pounds of food and personal hygiene items for donation to local food banks and pantries. Commissary employees and their patrons contributed almost 50 percent or a whopping 1.6 million pounds of DOD’s total.

“Our customers are the main driver behind the donations,” said Randy Eller, DeCA’s deputy director of logistics. “Their contributions have increased our total 66 percent from 2014.”

The Feds Feed Families campaign, which runs June through Aug. 31 this year, was created as a part of President Obama’s United We Serve campaign in 2009. The program was started to help food banks stay stocked throughout the summer, when they typically see fewer donations and increased demand. Through the program, almost 57.2 million pounds of food and other items have been donated by federal employees from all across the federal government.

This year commissary employees and patrons are pulling together again to collect donations of much needed nonperishable food and personal hygiene items. Prepacked donation bags, which can be purchased in store and placed in collection bins when entering or leaving, are available. Customers may also bring items from home to donate.

Donated items are picked up by the installations and delivered to local food banks or pantries.

The most-needed items for donations include:

  • Canned vegetables – low sodium, no salt
  • Canned fruits – in light syrup or its own juices
  • Canned proteins – tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter and beans
  • Soups – beef stew, chili, chicken noodle, turkey or rice
  • Condiments – tomato-based sauces, light soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing or oils
  • Snacks – individually packed snacks, crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, granola and cereal bars, pretzels and sandwich crackers
  • Multigrain cereal
  • 100 percent juice – all sizes, including juice boxes
  • Grains – brown and white rice, oatmeal, bulgar, quinoa, couscous, pasta, and macaroni and cheese
  • Paper products and household items – paper towels, napkins, cleaning supplies
  • Hygiene items – diapers, deodorants (men and women), feminine products, toilet paper, tissues, soap, toothpaste and shampoo

There have been no official goals set but, with the help of commissary employees and generous patrons, Eller thinks last years’ numbers can be beat.

“Let’s all give our full support to this fantastic program which feeds thousands of hungry families across the United States, and work to have our best totals ever,” he said.

For more information on the Feds Feed Families campaign, visit USDA’s Feds Feed Families page.

To see a photo on DeCA’s Flickr page related to this story, click on the photo or go to, go to DeCA’s Flickr page

About DeCA:
The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Source: Commissary

DeCA director: commissary is the place to go to save on holiday groceries

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-11-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — The holidays are right around the corner and special in-store promotions make the commissary the place to go to save on holiday groceries, according to the Defense Commissary Agency’s director of sales.

“We have some great promotions lined up for the holiday season,” said Tracie Russ, DeCA sales director. “Thanks to our industry partners, our patrons will be able to save quite a bit of money for their holiday entertainment and meal needs.”

Patrons can find out more details on holiday promotions and other discounted items in their commissary by going to the Sales & Events page.

Throughout December, DeCA’s industry partners – vendors, suppliers and brokers – are collaborating with stateside stores to offer discounts on holiday specials beyond everyday savings. Overseas stores may have substitute events for certain promotional programs. Customers are asked to check their local commissary for details on dates and times for the following promotions:

  • Customers can use coupons from the 16-page turkey coupon booklet through Dec. 21 for their holiday turkey dinners. The coupons provide commissary shoppers with greater than normal savings or free turkeys when purchasing their holiday meal essentials using the coupons. Terms and conditions are on the coupons. The vendors include Kraft Heinz Company, Kellogg’s, General Mills, P&G, Nabisco, Ritz, Hefty/Reynolds Wrap, Fresh Express and Johnsonville & Frito Lay. This turkey coupon booklet also includes preparation tips and holiday recipes.
  • Throughout December, commissary deli departments stateside and in the Far East will be offering an additional 15 percent off on combination 16-inch party trays of various luncheon meats and cheeses, and holiday cookies.
  • From Dec. 1 through Jan. 15, Commissary Rewards Cards will be preloaded with coupon savings on several products. Terms and conditions apply. Participating items include $3 off on certain Unilever items, Country Crock Spread, Lipton Soup Secrets, Lipton Recipe Secrets, Knorr Bouillon, Knorr Soup, Knorr Pasta Sides or Rice Sides, Knorr Gourmet Gravy and Lipton Superfruits Teas. Patrons can also save $1 off Kaytee Wild Bird Food, until Dec. 4, and $.50 cents on any Melt Organic item through Dec. 15.

“We want our patrons to remember their commissary benefit for their holiday needs,” Russ said. “More importantly, the Defense Commissary Agency wishes you and your family, here and abroad, a very happy, healthy, and safe holiday season.”

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

SOURCE: The Defense Commissary Agency

Army Specialist Daquana Brown won free groceries for a year at the commissary sponsored by Eckrich

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-9-22 — /EPR Retail News/ — When Army Specialist Daquana Brown showed up at the Fort Lee, Virginia, Commissary on Sept. 11, she expected to pick up VIP passes to a NASCAR race she had won for the following night at the Richmond International Raceway. Maybe she even expected to pick up a few items at the store’s customer appreciation case lot sales event.

But she got a lot more.

Waiting for Brown was a ceremony, with representatives from Smithfield Foods’ Eckrich brand, the national non-profit organization Operation Homefront, Richard Petty Motorsports and the Defense Commissary Agency.

In addition to the race passes, she received Richard Petty Motorsports team shirts and ball caps for her and her children, 4-year-old Angelina, and 3-year-old Noah. The children sat in NASCAR driver Aric Almirola’s No. 43 Ford, stood back and held their ears as a Richard Petty team rep fired it up and unleashed the roar of 750 un-muffled horses stampeding under the car’s hood.

For Brown, the ceremony went from good to crazy as Eckrich representative Jeff Dennison stepped up with a giant placard announcing she had also won free groceries for a year at the commissary, worth up to $7,800, sponsored by Eckrich.

“I’m just really shocked,” Brown said. “I didn’t expect this, and I am thankful to Eckrich and Operation Homefront for everything they did today.”

The day’s events were part of a year-long effort to recognize service members and their families, said Chuck Gitkin, senior vice president of marketing for Smithfield Foods.

“Richard Petty Motorsports has joined Eckrich for the third consecutive year to honor our military families,” Gitkin said. “We are proud to give back to the Brown family, and we hope they enjoy their year of free groceries and their time at the race.”

Eckrich is also in the fourth year of its partnership with Operation Homefront, an organization that provides emergency and other financial assistance to military families. Together, they’ve passed $1 million in donations to the military since 2012.

Commissary Agency officials praised the groups’ efforts on behalf of military families, and thanked them for giving back to the military community.

“The support that our industry partners provide is outstanding and our customers truly benefit from this additional support,” said Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Stuart M. Allison, the senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director.

According to Charlie Dowlen, DeCA promotions manager, the grocery giveaway is just another reason shopping at the commissary is “worth the trip.”

“This was a great event that fostered goodwill with this individual and her two children as well as the whole post,” Dowlen said. Between the case lot sale and the Eckrich event, the parking lot was completely full.

“The Fort Lee Commissary, like any of our stores worldwide, takes care of its customers and is ‘the place’ for them to come and shop for their groceries.”

Note: Access the following link for a video that accompanies this news release. For a photo, please visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary’s this year “Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sales” are starting across the U.S. now

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-8-17— /EPR Retail News/ — With everyday prices averaging 30 percent less than other grocery stores, the commissary has earned its reputation as the best deal in town. But every once in a while – around spring and fall, in fact – patrons can find even better deals as stateside commissaries launch their “Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sales.” This year’s fall sales are starting across the U.S. now, as each store hosts individual two- or three-day case lot sales during one weekend between mid-August and the end of September. Commissaries in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are also participating.

“You will find much higher savings at the case lot sales, up to 50 percent on some items,” said Sallie Cauthers, marketing and mass communication specialist at the Defense Commissary Agency headquarters.

Cauthers explained that some of the best values are found in bulk purchases. “If you have a large storage area, you can stock up on bulk supplies of paper products – toilet paper, paper towels and more – and save sometimes double off our regular commissary prices.”

The sales events are not limited to just a few select items. “These sales provide shoppers super deals on bulk items including cereals, breakfast bars, chips, beverages and paper goods,” she said. “Commissaries also offer great deals on seasonal fresh produce and provide high-value coupons for products inside the store.”

In addition to better pricing, case lot sales are distinguishable from big-box club stores by what is called “mix and match” offerings. “If you have a large family, you can’t go wrong with our mix and match section where you can take like items and mix up bulk-size cases,” Cauthers said. “Mix and match offerings include cereals, canned items, beverages and various other grocery items for year-round use.”

Customers have a variety of options to choose from. Sale items include products in the following categories:

  • Fruit snacks, pudding snack packs, granola bars, fruit bars, pastries, peanut butter and popcorn
  • Water and flavored water, teas, juices, juice mixes, sodas, sports drinks and breakfast drinks
  • Frozen pizza and sausage links
  • Chilled items to include cheeses, yogurt and yogurt mix
  • Prepackaged meats such as lunchmeat, bacon and pork loin
  • Pet supplies to include bagged and canned food, treats and cat litter
  • Pasta, barbecue and pasta sauces, spices, rice, oriental noodles and bowls, chili mix, and condiments
  • Cookies, brownies, pancakes and muffin mixes; oatmeal
  • Canned fruit, vegetables, soups, tuna and chili
  • Sandwich, storage and freezer bags; paper products and cleaning supplies such as bathroom tissue, fabric sheets and laundry detergent
  • Health and beauty care items including diapers, wipes, shampoo and conditioner, soaps, shaving gels, and body lotions

Commissaries in Europe and the Pacific, while not officially participating, may have substitute events such as sidewalk sales.

“Our commissaries offer the very best grocery products worldwide in savings and great value to our military and their families,” Cauthers said. “These twice-a-year sales offer even more value and savings for their hard earned dollar.”

Note: For a photo related to this news release, please visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary reintroduces cooked poultry products in South Korea by Labor Day

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-8-13— /EPR Retail News/ — Commissary shoppers in South Korea will begin to see cooked poultry products back on shelves by Labor Day.

On July 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a revision to Korea’s embargo to allow heat-treated poultry and poultry products from the U.S. Learning the news, the Defense Commissary Agency quickly placed orders with its U.S. suppliers to restock the shelves of commissaries in South Korea with cooked poultry products.

“Frozen dinners, pot pies, nuggets, lunch meats, franks, Lunchables and other popular cooked poultry products will begin to arrive by early September,” said Wayne Walk, DeCA’s zone manager in Korea. “With school starting back up, this is great timing for parents packing lunches and for anyone looking for easy-to-prepare meals.”

South Korea’s embargo had restricted the entry of all poultry products into the country since last December when the U.S. announced the presence of avian influenza in live poultry flocks in Oregon and California, followed by additional outbreaks in other U.S. states.

Uncooked poultry from the U.S. is still restricted by the embargo, but DeCA has alternate sources for uncooked poultry to replace many of the items it previously received from U.S. suppliers.

“We offer fresh, uncooked chicken and eggs from Korea,” said Walk. “We have whole chickens, chicken breasts, boneless thighs and drumsticks. These products are not frozen and are ready to take home and cook immediately.”

Commissaries also began offering chicken from Australia this month.

“Shoppers will find Steggles of Australia chicken in the freezer section in tray packs,” said Walk. “Steggles is supplying our commissaries here in Korea with chicken products that have historically been popular with our shoppers – skinless, boneless breasts and thighs; tenderloins; wings and drumsticks.”

“We’re working continuously to provide our customers with the very best service and product assortment,” said Walk. “The embargo has been an opportunity for DeCA to work a little harder to ensure military members and their families stationed in Korea have the products they need when they use their commissary benefit.”

The USDA advises consumers to always follow proper handling and cooking processes when working with poultry. Food safety and avian influenza information can be found in the USDA Food Safety and Avian Influenza Questions and Answers, April 2015.

Note: For a photo related to this news release, please visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary kicks off the “Back to School” sales event this August

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-7-27 — /EPR Retail News/ — Your commissary is kicking off the “Back to School” sales event in August by focusing on healthy family breakfasts, fresh-packed school lunches and after-school snacks that children can prepare themselves. You’ll find lots of healthy products in all categories that fit right into a school day.

“Promoting lean protein, high fiber cereals, low-fat dairy products, and fresh fruit can offer our military families great ideas for a healthy, well-rounded breakfast,” said Tracie Russ, the Defense Commissary Agency’s sales director. “Also packing a healthy lunch includes the same categories listed above with some refrigerated, ready-made lunches that make it convenient for the parent who is preparing the school lunches.

“Our produce section is also offering new snack cups that include dairy, protein and fresh fruit for after-school snacks that kids can serve themselves,” she added.

Certain commissaries are also scheduling local farmers’ markets in August. Patrons should check with their local produce manager to see if they have scheduled anything in their area.

DeCA’s industry partners – vendors, suppliers and brokers – are collaborating with commissaries in August to offer discounts beyond everyday savings. Always check what’s on the “end of the aisle” for themed items with extra-low pricing. Overseas stores may have substitute events for certain promotional programs. Customers should check with their store manager to verify when they will be offering the following sales events:

  • Commissary Customer Appreciation Sales. Beginning mid-August through Sept. 30, commissaries will be offering their popular case lot sale events for stores in the continental United States as well as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These sales will provide shoppers super deals on bulk items including cereals, breakfast bars, chips, beverages, and paper goods. Commissaries will also offer great deals on seasonal produce and provide high-value coupons for products inside the store. At some locations, the exchanges may also participate with their own sidewalk sales that include back to school products such as school supplies, shoes and apparel.
  • General Mills will host the Box Tops for Education program worldwide from July 23 to Aug. 19. Please look for in-store displays. Participants can sign up for coupons on General Mills products.
  • Kellogg’s Fuel Up For School sales event takes place July 23 – Aug. 19, and offers chances to win (stateside only) $100 VISA gift cards, Monster headphones, free music downloads, $4 off Crayola school supplies and other high-value coupon offers. Kellogg’s will also donate $.05 per box for every Kellogg’s or Keebler item purchased Aug. 1-31 up to $50,000. See in-store displays for details.
  • Kraft is offering the Backpack of Savings promotion from Aug. 6 to Sept. 6. This promotion is an in-store opportunity for patrons at stateside stores to win a backpack filled with $65 of back-to-school essentials. In-store displays and coupons will be available.

“Waking up just 30 minutes earlier each day allows schoolchildren the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the most important meal of the day – breakfast,” Russ said. “Your commissary has it all for your children’s ‘Back to School’ nutritional needs.”

Note: For photos related to this news release, please see our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

New commissary opens at Fort Rucker, Alabama

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-7-17 — /EPR Retail News/ — Silofa Orr set her alarm for 5:30 a.m. July 15, something she doesn’t normally do during the summer, especially now that she is pregnant and due in three weeks.

She had her two school-aged children and her 1 year old dressed and in the car by 6:30 and on their way to join hundreds of other service members and their families to be among the first shoppers to see the inside of their new commissary at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Orr has been at Fort Rucker for two years. Her husband is an instructor pilot with the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence there. Orr said she had counted down the days waiting for the new commissary’s opening.

“I’m from the city and this store is big. It makes me feel like I’m home,” said Orr after having gone through the produce and meat departments. “The meat looks great – fresh. I love it, honestly. This is going to be wonderful for my family and the military here at Fort Rucker.”

Also at the commissary early was Director and CEO of the Defense Commissary Agency Joseph H. Jeu. In his comments to the crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony he said, “I want you to know that we at the Defense Commissary Agency take pride in both serving and being an essential part of the military community. More than 60 percent of our employees have a connection to the military, either by serving themselves or through a family member. We exist solely to provide the commissary benefit for you – current and retired service members and your families.”

Jeu also explained how commissary shoppers played a big role in making the new facility possible. “I’m sometimes asked, ‘Where does the surcharge money go?’ Well, it goes right back into the commissaries. It’s used to build new stores and renovate old ones. You can see that here today,” he said.

Inside the store, sales promotions and product samplings were a hit with customers, as were the Commissary Gift Cards and other prizes offered by DeCA’s industry partners and vendors as a way to thank soldiers and their families for their service.

Sgt. Krystal Perryman, a non-commissioned officer who handles administrative duties for the 6th Military Police Detachment at Fort Rucker, was shopping for her five children and husband, Warrant Officer DeBrandon Perryman, a pilot training at the U.S. Army Aviation Center.

Perryman said the commissary was important to her family to keep their budget on track. “We save at least $150 a month at the commissary, especially during school time when we have to pack lunches.”

Store Director Bobby Ward was proud as a peacock to be opening the new Fort Rucker store. “Service members and their families make sacrifices every day,” he said. “My entire staff is thrilled we can now serve our deserving customers in this beautiful store.

“Just look at this fresh produce, it can’t be beat,” Ward added. “And we have an international delicatessen and bakery with delicious goods, sushi to-go and rotisserie chicken.”

The new commissary’s sales floor is 50 percent larger than the store it replaced a few blocks down the road. The old store had served the Fort Rucker community since 1969. Not as easily noticeable are the new store’s energy-saving design features that make it a more environmentally friendly facility.

By checkout time Orr had a cart overflowing with enough food she estimated would last her family for a week. “Shopping in the commissary makes a big difference in our grocery bill,” she said. “I come here often and know most of the cashiers and baggers. I’ll be back next week for more.”

For store hours and other information visit the Fort Rucker store page.

Note: For a video related to this news release, watch it on YouTube. For photos, see our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary Gift Cards – available to anyone online and in-store for authorized shoppers

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-7-17 — /EPR Retail News/ — Looking for a gift to please your favorite military service member, but running short on ideas? Have you scoured the Web, searching online offer after online offer, trying to find that special gift with the best bang for your hard-earned buck? Look no further than your local commissary.

Commissary Gift Cards – available to anyone online and in-store for authorized shoppers – are a unique way to give the gift of groceries. And with the commissary’s average savings of 30 percent built in, you know you’re getting maximum value for your gift dollar, whether as an organization or individual gift giver.

Maybe that’s why the gift card program, which entered its fifth year June 29, has proved to be so popular. “We do about $5 million a year in gift card sales,” said Bob Bunch, the Defense Commissary Agency’s gift card program manager. “When you look at it, the cards have provided more than 560,000 gifts of groceries, worth more than $19 million.”

Also, according to Bunch, a Commissary Gift Card is more likely to be used than other types of gift cards. “Our redemption rate is really phenomenal,” he said, adding that almost 90 percent of all cards sold have been fully redeemed. “The average redemption rate for a standard gift card is about 75 percent.”

Here are some Commissary Gift Card quick facts:

  • Gift cards are available at all commissaries worldwide – on a rack at full service, front-end registers – as well as the website. Just use the “Place your order” button on the Gift Cards page.
  • Cards are good for five years from the date of purchase.
  • Only gift cards purchased online incur a shipping and handling fee. There are no fees when the card is purchased in a store.
  • There is no limit to the number of gifts cards that a purchaser can buy. However, DeCA officials recommend organizations and activities consider purchasing their cards online if they plan to purchase more than 50 at a time.
  • The cards can be sent anywhere in the United States. However, cards can only be shipped to APO, FPO or DPO addresses outside the U.S.
  • To check card balances, use the “Check Your Balance” button on the Gift Cards page.

For customer service questions, please call 877-988-4438, which is also found on the back of the gift card. Customers can also use this number to check the balance on their card.

Customers who still have unused gift vouchers, the precursor to the gift card, may still redeem them through Aug. 31, 2016, regardless of the expiration date printed on it. After that date, DeCA will no longer accept the vouchers as a form of payment.

Note: For graphics related to this news release, please visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary Value Brands program now has nearly 500 products available at savings comparable to low-cost private label items in commercial stores

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-7-13 — /EPR Retail News/ — Six months into the start of the Commissary Value Brands program, patrons now have nearly 500 products available at savings comparable to low-cost private label items in commercial stores.

Since the emergence of the Value Brands’ signature orange label in December, the Defense Commissary Agency has elevated the savings program from about 100 products in 33 categories to almost 500 items in 54 categories. This savings boost has patrons like Wayne Perry, a military spouse, even happier to use his commissary benefit.

“I love those value tags,” said Perry, who lives at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, with his wife, an Army sergeant, and their four children. “Value brands offer better pricing with often times the same quality and taste. And, it may even help train people to look for values wherever and whenever they shop. That really was a good move on the value tag. I like it. I like it a lot.”

On average, Commissary Value Brands save patrons about 20 percent when compared to the store brand and private label items found in commercial retail stores. Some products approach as much as 50 percent savings.

The Value Brands lineup includes beverages such as coffee, soft drinks and juices; dairy products like several cheeses, butter, canned and powdered milk; lunch meats, canned tuna and salmon; canned and frozen vegetables; canned fruit and soup; hot and cold cereals; bread; dry pasta and rice; pizza and entrees; peanut butter, jelly, honey and condiments; ice cream; cleaning supplies, disposable bags, laundry bleach and paper towels; pet foods; batteries; health and beauty care and more.

DeCA’s criteria for Value Brands is simple: DeCA’s prices are guaranteed to be consistently equal to or lower than comparable store brand and private label products downtown

“Many items will remain in the Value Brands program, and items that now meet the criteria have been added,” said Tracie Russ, DeCA’s sales director. “Our job is to ensure that products bearing that orange tag represent the best value – period.”

That’s welcome news for patrons like Amanda Gallagher, a military spouse at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. “For our family, the Value Brand program allows us to get really high-quality food at less cost than we would be able to at any of the stores off post or outside the gate.”

In addition to the orange signs on the shelves, special displays are used to showcase Commissary Value Brands. Shoppers can also cruise DeCA’s website, commissaries.com, or visit the agency’s social media outlets, especially Facebook and Twitter, to identify value deals before they hit the store.

Commissary patrons have many options for saving with Commissary Value Brands, biweekly promotions and other special sales offer targeted discounts.

“The orange sticker has changed the way our customers shop,” said Meralie Ervin, deputy store director at the Fort Belvoir Commissary, “because when they come in they’re expecting to see that orange sticker on our shelf with any item that’s allocated to the Best Value program.”

NOTE: For a video related to this news release, please go to the associated DIVDs page. For photos, please visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Herb Winchester Jr. returns to the Gulf Coast area on May 3 to take the reins of DeCA’s Zone 1

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-4-30 — /EPR Retail News/ — After three and a half years as director of the Defense Commissary Agency’s East Area, Herb Winchester Jr. is returning to the Gulf Coast area May 3 to take the reins of DeCA’s Zone 1, a zone he managed in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wreaked devastation.

“Herb’s done a great job leading DeCA’s top area in terms of sales, and he’s perfectly suited to fill our zone manager vacancy thanks not only to the depth and breadth of his commissary experience, but to his personal knowledge of a zone he guided through good times and incredibly challenging times,” said Keith Hagenbuch, executive director of DeCA’s Store Operations Group. The Zone 1 manager position has been vacant since February when Michael Mertz retired. A new East Area director selection hasn’t been made.

Winchester was Zone 1 manager from 2002 to 2007, and received DeCA’s Blackwell Leadership Award for 2005 as the result of his actions leading the recovery of commissary operations from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. As Zone 1 manager, Winchester oversees the operations and business processes of 10 commissaries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with combined annual sales of $211 million.

His expertise and knowledge of commissary operations and management have served the agency well as his career progressed through successive leadership positions in the United States and overseas. Key assignments include: deputy director, Performance and Policy, DeCA Headquarters; director, Leadership Development, DeCA Headquarters; deputy region director, DeCA Europe; zone manager, DeCA East Delta Gulf Zone; chief, DeCA Europe Product Support Division; and zone manager, DeCA Europe Zone 32, Germany.

Winchester has nearly 25 years’ experience in commissary operations, having begun his DeCA career in 1991 while still on active duty in the U.S. Army. He retired from military service in 1996 and started his civilian career in DeCA as deputy commissary officer of the Heidelberg Commissary, Germany.

Note: For more information about Herb Winchester, please access his bio.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary opened four new commissaries on Army, Navy and Air Force installations in 2014 thanks to surcharge funds

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-4-20 — /EPR Retail News/ — There’s a lot to learn about the commissary surcharge just by considering four new commissaries opened last year on Army, Navy and Air Force installations.

Thanks to the surcharge – the 5 percent added to every commissary customer’s receipt – the military communities at Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Md.; Fort Polk, La.; Maxwell Air Force Base Gunter Annex, Ala.; and Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., had new stores opened in 2014, replacing well-worn facilities to the tune of $62 million. Surcharge funds paid the construction costs.

“New commissaries are a very visible example of what the surcharge does,” said Larry Bands, chief financial officer for the Defense Commissary Agency. “Less obvious but very important is the fact that the surcharge is the way commissary customers invest in their benefit – providing modern facilities, major facility repairs and store equipment.”

Here are some surcharge facts:

  • It is not a tax. Surcharge dollars go back into stores, paying for the construction of new and replacement stores, renovations, maintenance and repairs, store equipment, and store-level information technology systems, such as checkouts. In fiscal 2014, the surcharge budget was $290.4 million.
  • The overall commissary shopper savings of 30 percent or more takes into consideration the 5 percent surcharge.
  • The surcharge has been set at 5 percent since 1983, and cannot be changed without congressional approval.

DeCA historian, Dr. Peter Skirbunt, notes that the surcharge is not a recent innovation. Its history traces back to 1879 and features various applications and rates through the years leading up to 1983.

“Today, the surcharge is a uniform 5 percent at all DeCA stores, stateside and overseas,” Skirbunt said. “It’s the customers’ stake in their benefit. People paying the surcharge today may someday be stationed at an installation where surcharge dollars have modernized an old store or built a new one. In this way, patrons help improve the benefit for their fellow customers.”

Note: For photos related to this news release, please visit our Flickr page. For a video, please go to YouTube.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sale returns this spring

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-4-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — Mention case lot sales and commissary patrons start lining up for the opportunity to save up to 50 percent or more on club-pack and full-case items.

Known as the Commissary Customer Appreciation Case Lot Sale, the springtime version of this twice-yearly event will unfold at stateside stores, each hosting their individual two- or three-day case lot sale during a weekend scheduled sometime from mid-April to the end of June.

Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico will also participate in these sales. Commissaries in Europe and the Pacific, depending on the location, may have substitute events such as sidewalk sales. “Commissary Customer Appreciation Sales offer patrons a chance to load up on a variety of grocery and household items at tremendous savings,” said Tracie Russ, Defense Commissary Agency sales director. “For some items we have savings that even approach 60 percent, making these sales well worth the trip!”

Customers have a variety of options to choose from. The list includes the following product categories:

  • Fruit snacks, pudding snack packs, granola bars, fruit bars, pastries, peanut butter and popcorn
  • Water and flavored water, teas, juices, juice mixes, sodas, sports drinks and breakfast drinks
  • Frozen pizza and sausage links
  • Chilled items to include cheeses, yogurt and yogurt mix
  • Prepackaged meats such as lunchmeat, bacon and pork loin
  • Pet supplies to include bagged and canned food, treats and cat litter
  • Pasta, barbecue and pasta sauces, spices, rice, oriental noodles and bowls, chili mix and condiments
  • Cookies, brownies, pancakes and muffin mixes; oatmeal
  • Canned fruit, vegetables, soups, tuna and chili
  • Sandwich, storage and freezer bags; paper products and cleaning supplies such as bathroom tissue, fabric sheets and laundry detergent
  • Health and beauty care including diapers, wipes, shampoo and conditioner, soaps, shaving gels and body lotions

“These events are like mobile club stores coming to your installation,” Russ said. “You cannot beat the opportunity to get bulk products at these great prices.”

Customers can go to the main Case Lot Sale page to find out when their store is having a sale. They can also find relevant information on their store’s Local Store Information page.

Note: For photos related to this news release, go to our Flickr page. For a public service announcement, watch the YouTube video.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Stuart M. Allison: The best way to use the commissary benefit is to be an informed shopper

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-3-31 — /EPR Retail News/ — What a commissary patrons know about their commissary benefit – how it works, its history and its features – can make all the difference in how they use it.

Just ask Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Stuart M. Allison, the Defense Commissary Agency’s senior enlisted advisor to the director.

“The best way to use the commissary benefit is to be an informed shopper,” Allison said. “By ‘informed,’ I mean being aware of what the benefit is and how it began. Do you know about our great savings in produce, meat and other grocery products? The more you know, the more the benefit works for you.”

So, to help commissary shoppers, here’s Allison’s quick guide of fact vs. fiction information:

The commissary is only authorized for married military members living in on-base housing:
Fiction. Where a person lives or their marital status does not determine commissary access. All that matters is their status as an authorized patron. Active duty military, reservists, retirees, 100 percent disabled military veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, and their authorized family members are all authorized to shop.

Case lot sales can save patrons upwards of 50 percent:
Fact. DeCA’s Commissary Customer Appreciation case lot sales offer savings of 50 percent or more on club pack and full-case items. Customers can go to the Case Lot Sales page to find out scheduled sales. They can also find this information on their store’s Web page.

The Defense Commissary Agency isn’t connected to its patrons in cyberspace:
Fiction. DeCA reaches hundreds of thousands of patrons online through social media platforms such as Facebook,Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare and Pinterest. Through social media, DeCA gets instant feedback from customers on promotions, store conditions and product preferences. The sites also draw patrons to www.commissaries.com for more information to maximize their benefit.

DeCA has a rewards card that gives its patrons access to digital coupons:
Fact. The Commissary Rewards Card is a convenient way for customers to save even more with about 160 digital coupons. Patrons can download those digital coupons to the Commissary Rewards Card from the commissary website or from Smart Source “direct to card.” iPhone and Android apps make it even easier for customers to review their coupon accounts, as well as locate commissaries and their contact information.

Patrons can only access commissary products in a commissary:
Fiction. DeCA’s Guard and Reserve On-Site sales extend the commissary benefit to Guard and Reserve members and their families who don’t live near a commissary. These sales are hosted by nearby commissaries in cooperation with Guard and Reserve units that have at least 150 members stationed in an area. Although designed for reservists, any authorized patron can shop during the sales. A listing of on-site sales can be found on the Guard/Reserve On-Site Sales page.

The 5-percent surcharge is a tax:
Fiction. The 5-percent surcharge, mandated by Congress, is returned to commissary patrons in the form of continually improved commissary facilities – new stores, as well as renovations of existing ones. The savings of 30 percent includes the 5-percent surcharge.

Military commissaries date back to the 1860s:
Fact. Although DeCA was formed in 1991, the modern era of sales commissaries actually began in 1867. It was then that enlisted men received the same at-cost purchasing privileges officers had already enjoyed for four decades. From the start, commissaries were meant to allow the Army to “care for its own.” The stores provided wholesome food beyond official rations, and the savings supplemented military pay.

Baggers are commissary employees:
Fiction. Baggers are not commissary employees, and are paid solely by tips from commissary patrons in exchange for bagging and carryout services. Baggers are self-employed and work under a license agreement with an installation commander.

“Doing your homework can pay off at the cash register,” Allison said. “If you want to save more, boost your commissary knowledge. Tune in to DeCA’s social media sites, and check the commissary website for the current sales flyer, ongoing promotions, the lineup of Commissary Value Brands, and available digital coupons for your Commissary Rewards Card.

“It’s your benefit,” he added. “Take the time to understand it and use it.”

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary opens new store at Fort Polk

FORT LEE, Va., 2014-11-14— /EPR Retail News/ — Called another “jewel” for Fort Polk, the new commissary did not disappoint its patrons who got their first look during the grand opening Nov. 12.

“This is very nice,” said Army Staff Sgt. Artemus Renteria, who waited more than two hours along with his wife, Lyn, for the store to open. “The large produce department looks immaculate, and the deli-bakery has items and services that my family is going to enjoy.”

During the 9 a.m. opening ceremony, Army Brig. Gen. William. B. Hickman, commanding general, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, referred to the commissary as “another jewel,” a welcome addition to the many services and features the installation offers to enhance military quality of life.

Replacing a commissary about a block away that had served the installation since 1976, the shopping area of the new store is 25 percent larger, with a greatly expanded produce department and features designed to make shopping more enjoyable, noted DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu during his remarks.

The new Fort Polk store has nine regular checkouts, four self-checkouts, an international delicatessen and bakery, sushi-to-go services and a stock assortment of 17,000 items to serve a patron base of nearly 32,000 authorized shoppers.

With its energy efficient and environmentally friendly features, the expansive new facility is designed to make shopping pleasant, according to Ed Koerner, the store director.

Shopper Amanda Al Janahi echoed Koerner’s sentiments, saying “The wide aisles especially made it easy to navigate, and it is well organized.”

Lauren Manary, an Army spouse for two years, used “modern” to describe the commissary as she quickly toured the store. “I really appreciate the commissary savings. As someone new to Army life I’m still getting used to having access to low-priced groceries. I can’t wait to shop!”

All of that was good news to Koerner.

“The customer is king and our customers are going to love their new store,” said Koerner, who has more than 23 years of commissary experience. “It makes me and the store staff proud to boost the morale and the quality of life at Fort Polk by providing the commissary benefit in such a modern facility.”

Throughout the day, commissary industry partners and vendors were on hand to give away commissary gift cards and other prizes to customers as a way to celebrate the new store’s opening.

Commissary shoppers had a major role in making the store possible because the store was built using surcharge funds. The 5 percent surcharge is added to every commissary shopper’s grocery bill, and the money is used to pay for construction and renovation of commissary facilities.

For store hours and other information visit the Fort Polk store page.

NOTE: To see photos of the new Fort Polk Commissary grand opening, please visit our Flickr page. For a video of how DeCA employees and industry partners prepared the store for the grand opening, visit YouTube.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary customers and employees donated nearly million pounds of food and other needed items to local food banks and charities during the annual Feds Feed Families campaign

FORT LEE, Va., 2014-10-10— /EPR Retail News/ — Commissary customers and employees donated nearly a million pounds of food and other needed items to local food banks and charitable organizations during the annual Feds Feed Families campaign, June 1-Sept. 12.

“Our customers and employees continue to support this program in an even bigger way every year,” said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. “I’m so proud of their generosity and community spirit.”

Reflecting a 23 percent increase over last year’s donations, commissaries served as collection points on their installations for 960,950 pounds of goods. That amount reflects 30 percent of total Defense Department donations. DeCA locations have collected 30-40 percent of all DOD donations each year since 2011.

In 2013, nearly 740,000 pounds of grocery items were collected and donated through commissary collection points.

Commissaries traditionally develop donation packages, enabling busy customers to purchase a package and drop it in a donation bin as they leave the store.

Naval Station Mayport Commissary, Fla., led the way in donations for 2014, collecting more than 42,686 pounds. Barksdale Air Force Base Commissary, La., more than doubled last year’s 9,681 pounds in donations to nearly 22,000 pounds this year.

“Our patrons here are very supportive of this worthwhile cause,” said Barksdale Assistant Store Director Patricia Wilde.

NOTE: To see a photo and graphic related to Feds Feed Families, please visit our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

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Commissary customers and employees donated nearly million pounds of food and other needed items to local food banks and charities during the annual Feds Feed Families campaign

Commissary customers and employees donated nearly million pounds of food and other needed items to local food banks and charities during the annual Feds Feed Families campaign

Commissary stores to feature samplings and demonstrations in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

FORT LEE, Va., 2014-9-26— /EPR Retail News/ — Commissary shoppers will see lots of pink in October, as stores feature samplings and demonstrations in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

DeCA’s industry partners – vendors, suppliers and brokers – are collaborating with commissaries throughout October to offer everyday savings with promotions such as:

  • “Drink To Pink”sale, sponsored by Apple and Eve’s Northland juice brand. Along with great prices and coupons, the company will donate 25 cents per bottle, up to $25,000, to the National Breast Cancer Research Fund.
  • Hardies Fresh Foods specials on the following products: Naturesweet Tomatoes, Fresh Express Salads, Kitchen Pride Mushrooms, and Fresh from Texas (pre-cut items). There will be pink, reusable grocery bags given away with the purchase of one of their pink produce items.

Check with your local commissary to see what type of pink product specials and store events will be offered and for details on dates and times for any promotions. Overseas stores may have substitute events for certain programs.

And don’t forget to check the Sales & Events page for the latest information on sales and special events.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

Commissary and Navy Exchange complex opens at Annapolis, Md.

FORT LEE, Va., 2014-9-12— /EPR Retail News/ — The Sept. 10 grand opening of the Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Md., Commissary and Navy Exchange complex got rave reviews from shoppers who got their first look inside the new facility.

“It’s worth the trip and more!” said long time shopper Gretchen McKethan as she pushed her cart in the commissary meat department. “I just like the whole atmosphere, and there are a lot of things they didn’t have in the old store.”

McKethan’s remarks mirrored what NSA Annapolis commander, Capt. Logan Jones, told the large audience gathered outside the store for the 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. “When you step inside these stores today it’s going to blow your socks off,” said Jones, who joined Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu and Navy Exchange Service Command CEO Robert J. Bianchi as speakers for the ceremony.

The shopping center was built using funds generated from commissary and Navy Exchange sales. For the $16 million commissary, funding came from the surcharge account. The 5 percent surcharge is added to every commissary shopper’s grocery bill, and the money is used to pay for construction and renovation of commissary facilities.

The new energy efficient and more environmentally friendly commissary is twice as large as the one it replaces, a facility that had been in operation side-by-side with the Navy Exchange since 1979. Shoppers quickly noticed how the new store’s higher ceilings and wider aisles gave it a more expansive feel. Also new to them were an international delicatessen and bakery, sushi-to-go and rotisserie chicken.

“This is a dramatic improvement,” said Natasha Sealey, who was just getting started shopping in the fresh produce department. “The produce looks so nice and fresh, and we have a bakery and sushi, which is great.”

Store Director Jim Marino noted after the ceremony that he and his staff are just as excited about working in the new store as customers are of shopping there. “It took a lot of effort, planning and work from a lot of folks and now it’s our job to provide great customer service in this fine facility,” said Marino. “This day is special for me because I entered the Navy on Sept. 10, 1973, and I worked in commissaries some while in the military, and here we are, on this day, opening a new store to provide a commissary benefit that’s worth the trip.”

NOTE: For photos and video of the NSA Annapolis Commissary and Navy Exchange complex grand opening, go to our Flickr page.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices – savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773
kevin.robinson@deca.mil

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