Commissary to debut own store brands

FORT LEE, Va., 2017-May-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — In a matter of weeks, commissary brands will debut on store shelves, ushering the Defense Commissary Agency into a new era of patron savings, said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu.

“We are excited to finally begin offering commissary brands,” Jeu said. “An overwhelming number of our patrons said they would purchase store brands if we had them. Well that time is almost here.”

Commissaries in the United States will see an initial roll out of commissary brand products starting at the end of May with bottled water and later in June with plastic bags and paper products. Stores in overseas areas are expected to see commissary brand items in the September timeframe.

Commissary brand products will be equal or lower in price to commercial grocery store brands. This means they will also definitely cost less than regular national brands, Jeu said. “These products will give our patrons the quality they expect and the savings they deserve.”

DeCA’s commissary brand will be sold under two names: Freedom’s Choice for food items and HomeBase for nonfood items such as paper products and other household items.

Store brand products, also known as private label, are offered by retailers under their own, in-house brand or under a brand developed by their suppliers. Retailers are able to do this by working directly with suppliers.

DeCA is partnering with SpartanNash to develop the agency’s commissary brands. SpartanNash, through its military division MDV, is the leading distributor of grocery products to military commissaries in the United States.

Over the next three to four years patrons will see the gradual rollout of Freedom’s Choice and HomeBase products in their commissaries as DeCA plans to increase the commissary brand inventory to about 4,000 items.

The inclusion of commissary brands will not affect the availability of the name brands patrons have always shopped, Jeu said. DeCA will continue to optimize its product assortment to ensure patrons have a wide range of choices, between commissary and national brands, at competitive prices.

“Our commissary brand products will have the same quality and frequently will be produced on the same manufacturing lines as national brands, meeting the same high quality standards,” Jeu said. “These are products that have been manufactured specifically for our patrons.

“Bottom line: Freedom’s Choice and HomeBase will give our patrons another chance to save money, without sacrificing quality, on brands priced significantly lower than national brands,” he added.

For more information on DeCA’s commissary brand program, visit our FAQ 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. 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.

SOURCE: DeCA

Media Contact

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

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)

Defense Commissary Agency announces retirement of its Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu

FORT LEE, Va., 2017-Feb-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu announced today (Feb. 2, 2017) that he will retire June 3 after more than 38 years of federal service. Jeu has served as DeCA’s director since January 2011.

Over the course of his six and a half years as DeCA director, Jeu has guided the agency through an enormous and challenging transformation; set an aggressive strategic direction to ensure the relevance of the commissary benefit for generations to come; and provided direction and oversight for the modernization of DeCA’s supply chain management systems.

His plan for transforming the commissary business model set in motion actions to transition the commissary benefit from an “at cost” benefit to a “variable-price” business model, intended to preserve the future of the benefit while reducing the agency’s reliance on appropriated funds.

Under his direction, the agency also acquired, developed and began deploying its Enterprise Business Solution (EBS), one of the most impactful business initiatives the agency had ever undertaken, which would modernize DeCA’s legacy business systems and revitalize the way it does business.

In announcing his retirement, Jeu noted, “The transformation is well on its way and the right people are in place to see it through. It’s time for me to leave it in their capable hands.”

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)

DeCA: MDV SpartanNash LLC to bring private label products to store shelves

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Dec-12 — /EPR Retail News/ — The Defense Commissary Agency has selected MDV SpartanNash LLC to bring private label products to store shelves.

“Our customers have been asking for private label for a long time,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA’s director and CEO, citing a DeCA patron survey in which 60 percent of respondents said they would like to see a commissary private label offering.

“They are smart, savvy shoppers who know that private label products are cost-effective alternatives to national brands. We’re excited to help them save more at our commissaries.”

Private label products are offered by a retailer under its own, in-house brand or under a brand developed by its suppliers. Retailers are able to do this by working directly with suppliers. Commissaries will add private label options to their assortments, while continuing to offer the name brands that patrons have always shopped.

DeCA conducted a rigorous selection process to identify the right supplier. “Throughout the process, our goal was to find a partner that could provide quality products to our patrons at a savings level that is equivalent to or better than what they find from private label products at commercial grocers,” Jeu said.

Over the next several months, DeCA will work closely with SpartanNash to decide on an initial assortment of products to introduce. The initial assortment should be available at all commissaries worldwide in May 2017 and will include about 400 items.

Private label items will continue to grow to about 1,000 items by the end of 2017. Over the next two years, DeCA will continue to add more private label products to the commissary stock assortment.

For more information on DeCA’s private label program, read the Transformation FAQ.

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

Defense Commissary Agency’s Zone 24 manager Robin Schmidt assigned as DeCA’s Washington Office director

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Oct-06 — /EPR Retail News/ — Robin Schmidt, the Defense Commissary Agency’s Zone 24 manager, has been assigned as director of DeCA’s Washington Office, effective Oct. 16, agency officials announced.

Schmidt succeeds Thomas C. Owens, who has been reassigned as special assistant to the DeCA director, but will also serve as communications lead for the agency’s Transformation Office headed by Chris Burns. Owens’ assignment is effective Oct. 30.

Troy Collins, store director at Fort Belvoir Commissary, Virginia, will be acting manager of Zone 24 until a permanent manager is selected.

As director of the Washington Office, Schmidt serves as DeCA’s liaison to a wide variety of organizations, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the chiefs of the uniformed services, Congress, trade associations and other governmental activities.

She will also advise the DeCA director and staff on all congressional and Department of Defense issues related to commissary resale policies and operations, and articulates DeCA’s positions on issues during DOD meetings, study groups and special task forces held in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I have every confidence that Robin will handle the tremendous responsibilities of being chief of our Washington Office with the foresight and professionalism that have marked her DeCA career,” said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. “Her extensive knowledge of what it takes to deliver the commissary benefit, accompanied by her Washington experience gained through a previous developmental assignment with the Department of Defense Resale Office will be of immeasurable value to the agency as we navigate through our transformation.”

Schmidt has served as Zone 24 manager since 2011, with responsibility for seven stores located in Virginia, Maryland and Puerto Rico, which produced more than $300 million in sales. Prior to that, she was DeCA’s liaison as a senior fellow at the Department of Defense Resale Office from 2009 to 2011.

Schmidt has previously served in a variety of agency store management positions with over 24 years of service as a zone manager and store director.

Owens had been director of the Washington Office since January 2013. In his new assignment as special assistant to the DeCA director, he will work areas ranging from transformation communication to executive briefings for Congress and DOD.

“Tom has proven experience as a high-level facilitator, and the agency will require his particular talents and knowledge to respond effectively to DOD and congressional-level queries that transcend the normal workflow of the Washington Office,” Jeu said. “He will also continue to support Chris Burns as his chief communications lead on transformation issues.”

Before being selected to head the Washington Office, Owens served as chief of the agency’s business requirements division. His assignment to that position was part of a series of revisions to DeCA headquarters’ organization that became official in October 2012. The activation of the requirements division helped match the business end of the commissary benefit with the information technology systems needed to support it.

Owens’ commissary career began with the Army Troop Support Agency as a merchandising clerk at TSA’s Northeast Commissary Region in 1984. Over the breadth of his 32-year commissary career, he has served in a variety of store- and management-level positions.

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

Defense Commissary Agency marks 25 years of service to millions of authorized service members and their families

 

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Sep-27 — /EPR Retail News/ — Twenty-five years ago on Oct. 1, the Defense Commissary Agency took control of armed forces commissaries, worldwide.

The commissary benefit wasn’t new in 1991, but it was the first time in history all military commissaries were managed by one agency. Since 1867, the benefit enabled armed forces personnel of all ranks to purchase food and household goods at a substantial savings, compared with civilian prices.

For years, each installation ran its own store, with minimal guidance from the service headquarters. After World War II, each service took a more active role in guiding commissary operations.

By the mid-1970s, each of the armed services had offices or agencies that were specifically dedicated to running retail commissaries: AFCOMS, the Air Force Commissary Service; NAVRESSO, the Navy Resale Services Support Office; TSA, the U. S. Army Troop Support Agency; and the Marine Corps Commissary Office.

As the Cold War ended, Congress began to anticipate the reduction of the Armed Forces, and their budgets; bases no longer needed would close, as would their stores.

Members of Congress wishing to protect the benefit thought it would be easier – and less costly – if all four services combined their operations under one roof – a “purple” agency with one budget to run all military commissaries.

In 1989, Congress formed a commission, led by Army Maj. Gen. Donald P. Jones, to conduct a study on the viability of such a system. The Jones Commission Report, as it was called, prompted Congress to merge the headquarters and region structures of the four systems into one.

At first, each service feared the merger would cause them to lose control over what they perceived as “their” benefit, and that one service or another might control the agency, to the detriment of the others.

Those fears proved to be false. The new defense agency was impartial to the services, thanks to the director, Army Maj. Gen. John P. Dreska, and a transition team of specialists from across the services’ commissary organizations.

Since then, eight directors or interim directors have led the agency in its mission of providing a commissary benefit to millions of authorized service members and their families.

A quarter of a century later, DeCA employees are proud of the agency’s accomplishments. Much of what was done in 1991 has been improved, as DeCA adopted new and emerging methods and technologies. Today’s commissaries have conveniences like self-checkouts, sushi bars, hot foods, deli-bakeries, credit and debit card acceptance, gift certificates and much more.

“The history of DeCA has been one of adjusting to change,” said current Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. “This agency has excelled in turning challenges into opportunities to improve the commissary benefit for our patrons. We’re proud of what we have accomplished, which is especially noteworthy when you consider how much has been done since our inception.”

For 25 years, DeCA has made adjustments, as needed, to keep providing the benefit, even as stores closed due to base realignment and closure actions. Originally numbering 411 sales stores (plus another 17 grocery sections inside exchanges), there are now 238. But DeCA’s newest stores are state of the art, and its older stores have received multiple upgrades.

Average customer savings increased as much as 10 percent in some locations. Industry supported the agency with great deals and prices, and DeCA developed new ways of doing business and reaching its customers. The Guard-Reserve “on-site” sales for customers who do not live near a commissary, is one obvious example.

Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Stuart M. Allison, the senior enlisted advisor to the DeCA director, sees the work of DeCA’s employees up close and personal. He’s also a dedicated commissary patron.

“Since 1991, the Defense Commissary Agency has provided a highly valued military benefit to our troops and their families,” he said. “I appreciate my commissary benefit and salute the dedicated men and women who have delivered it for nearly a quarter of a century.

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

DeCA received $1.4 billion in appropriated funding in FY 2015

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Apr-13 — /EPR Retail News/ —  A lot happened in 2002. The Euro became legal tender in 12 European countries; the U.N. froze the assets of Osama bin Laden; Kmart became the largest retailer in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. The New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI for their first NFL championship; Tiger Woods won the Masters Golf Tournament for the second straight year; and “American Idol” premiered on Fox. On Sept. 11, the Pentagon was rededicated after repairs were completed – one year after the terrorist attack; and, Hollywood released “The Gangs of New York,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.

Also in 2002, the Defense Commissary Agency began its string of clean audits, an unbroken streak that continued with the agency’s financial statements for fiscal 2015 being given an “unmodified” audit opinion by independent auditors.

“This opinion means our financial house is in order, and we’re good stewards of the appropriations entrusted to us,” said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu, “and that’s crucial to our mission of delivering an effective and efficient commissary benefit.”

DeCA received $1.4 billion in appropriated funding for fiscal 2015. During that timeframe the agency generated nearly $6 billion in annual sales and processed almost 90 million transactions in its stores, while delivering $2.4 billion in patron savings. Commissaries also redeemed nearly 90 million coupons in fiscal 2015 for additional customer savings of nearly $84 million.

“We have a dedicated team of employees in resource management who help ensure DeCA’s financial statements are presented properly,” said Larry Bands, the agency’s chief financial officer. “However, this level of fiscal excellence is an agency achievement, when you consider the daily activities affecting all employees such as time and attendance, and accounting for resale items, equipment and property.”

There are plenty of moving financial parts to a defense agency such as DeCA that’s organized to operate like a business, Bands added. “So when we receive this rating from an independent audit, it certifies that we’re responsible caretakers of our patrons’ benefit.”

For DeCA, the road to a successful audit is continuous. Auditors from the CliftonLarsonAllen auditing firm, one of the 10 largest CPA firms in the country, started the process with onsite visits in February and March. They evaluated any internal controls and transactions that link to DeCA’s financial statements.

Although DeCA’s accountants collect and process the financial data that’s audited, the process still hinges on support and cooperation across the agency, said Edna Willis, chief of the compliance and reporting branch in the resource management directorate.

“This unmodified opinion tells our patrons that the finances of their commissary benefit are accurately reported, open and accessible for review,” Willis said.

Note: For an info graphic on the agency’s clean audit, 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

Jack McGregor named Defense Commissary Agency’s 2015 Michael W. Blackwell Leadership Award recipient

  • Pacific logistics chief honored for keeping commissaries supplied

FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Mar-28 — /EPR Retail News/ — To say 2015 was a difficult year for supplying Pacific Area commissaries is an understatement. The area dealt with poultry embargoes from Japan and Korea, and West Coast port slowdowns among other issues. So it was no surprise when the Defense Commissary Agency selected the person in the middle of all those challenges, Jack McGregor, Pacific Area logistics chief, as the agency’s 2015 Michael W. Blackwell Leadership Award recipient.

McGregor received the award during a DeCA Headquarters ceremony Feb. 1.

McGregor said winning the award was “a very unexpected and humbling experience. The team here in Sacramento, the headquarters management folks at Fort Lee, the central distribution center (CDC) folks in the Pacific and our distributor partners all played a role in the successes achieved this past year.”

McGregor, a former Navy service member, began his commissary career as a warehouse worker at the Naval Base Pearl Harbor Commissary, Hawaii. In 1992, he accepted a position with DeCA’s Pacific region at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he was a contract specialist. McGregor was promoted to chief, Pacific Overseas Processing Point, in 2003.

Today he supports eight CDCs, 24 CDC-supported commissaries, three direct-support commissaries and a U.S. Army-operated grocery store located in the Pacific. He also oversees ordering, shipping, product payments and container booking for all shipments to the Pacific and order processing payments to the CDC and all five commissaries in Alaska.

McGregor’s experience was tested early. In January 2015, Japan and South Korea enacted poultry embargoes because of the presence of avian flu in some U.S. poultry products. The embargoes reduced product flow to commissaries in those countries. McGregor immediately worked with suppliers and distributors to find other sources to keep product arriving at the stores.

South Korea eventually relaxed some restrictions and McGregor worked to get more than 300 items, such as hotdogs and chicken tenders, back into the stores.

During the embargoes, McGregor realized that families stationed in these areas wouldn’t be able to purchase turkeys for their Thanksgiving dinners. Seeking a solution, he located an Australian supplier that was not under the embargo and worked with veterinarians, category managers and contractors to get the supplier inspected and approved to send turkeys to the region.

McGregor also stayed current on the status of oceanic shipping. Finding one of two remaining U.S.-flagged ocean carriers was leaving the Pacific market, he coordinated with the U.S. Transportation Command and the remaining carrier, switching them in a seamless transition.

Meanwhile, a labor slowdown in West Coast ports was causing shipping delays and spoilage issues. McGregor quickly changed certain staple items over to airlift to fill shelves in the Pacific. The airlift lasted for four months, and must-have items were monitored closely to ensure costs were mitigated.

After port operations normalized, McGregor reduced the amount of items airlifted and shifted them back to surface shipments, while balancing shipping time with availability and shelf-life. During the port slowdown McGregor managed more than 5 million pounds of airlifted product, carrying a price tag of $19 million, while keeping the 27 stores in the Pacific at a 98-percent fill rate.

“Each of these situations caused unique challenges in their own way. I take it step by step and try to come up with the best possible solution in each situation,” McGregor said about the issues he faced.

“This series of exceptional challenges required exceptional leadership and persistence to overcome,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA Director and CEO. “Jack McGregor and his team did just that every time, in keeping with the Blackwell award’s central tenets: commitment to excellence, unswerving dedication and superior technical acumen.”

“It’s truly a team effort,” McGregor said. “I try to do my small part to make sure our customers know we care by bringing them a touch of home. There’s nothing like walking into a commissary in the Pacific and seeing a display of a good old USA item. That’s the feeling I want our customers get when they shop in our stores, and it makes everything we do behind the scenes worthwhile.”

The Blackwell award was created in honor of Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael W. Blackwell. He served with the Air Force Commissary Service before its consolidation into DeCA, and was the agency’s senior enlisted advisor from March 1994 to March 1995. Battling cancer, Blackwell retired from DeCA Feb. 9, 1995, after 22 years of service. He passed away April 5, 1995, at age 44.

Note: Photos related to this news release are on Flickr here, here and here.

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.

Source: Commissary

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

The Defense Commissary Agency names its best stateside and overseas stores for 2014

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-8-24— /EPR Retail News/ — The Defense Commissary Agency announced the selection of its best stateside and overseas stores for 2014.

DeCA’s selections for the Best Commissary awards acknowledge the agency’s leading stores based on exceptional service and dedication in delivering the commissary benefit. The awards recognize the best of the best in commissary operations, said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu.

“Our commissaries worldwide deliver the commissary benefit every day, and these awards highlight the best examples of supporting our service members and their families,” Jeu said. “It’s important to note that a Best Commissary award speaks to superior teamwork – a collaboration of excellence involving our employees, industry members (vendors, suppliers, and brokers) and military stakeholders.”

To win, a store has to exceed DeCA’s normal criteria for customer service, accountability, safety, operations and sales.

The awards are named in honor of American statesmen who championed quality-of-life issues for the military community.

Winning commissaries by category are:

  • Bill Nichols Award for the Best Large Commissary in the United States
    • First Place: Moody Air Force Base, Georgia
    • Second Place: Fort Huachuca, Arizona
  • Richard M. Paget Award for the Best Small Commissary in the United States
    • First Place: Fort Hunter Liggett, California
    • Second Place: Saratoga Springs, New York
  • Dan Daniel Award for the Best Large Commissary Overseas
    • First Place: Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany
    • Second Place: U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, Italy
  • L. Mendel Rivers Award for the Best Small Commissary Overseas
    • First Place: Izmir Air Station, Turkey
    • Second Place: U.S. Army Garrison Camp Humphreys, South Korea
  • Director’s Award for the Best Superstore
    • First Place: McGuire Commissary at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
    • Second Place: Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

Note: For photos 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

American military commissaries to celebrate their 148th anniversary on July 1

July 1 marks 148 years of military commissary benefit

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-6-26 — /EPR Retail News/ — American military commissaries, the “supermarkets to the military” across the globe, reach their 148th anniversary on July 1. On that day in 1867, Congress authorized the Army to begin selling, at cost, food items – called “commissary goods” to soldiers of all ranks. This landmark event began the modern era of retail food sales taking place on military installations.

Military commissaries today little resemble the warehouses that doubled as sales stores in 1867, but there are key similarities. For example, commissaries still sell food at cost to officers and enlisted alike, providing a savings benefit that promotes readiness and encourages retention in the armed services.

From stables and hangars to modern facilities

“Throughout history, commissaries transformed right alongside the military, evolving from a counter in a subsistence storehouses to former stables to old airplane hangars to vacant warehouses to the modern facilities you see today,” said Joseph H. Jeu, director and CEO of the Defense Commissary Agency. “A constant amid this evolution has been delivering a benefit for service members and their families who’ve earned it.”

In addition to the savings military families receive on their commissary purchases, the benefit also provides an indirect support to patrons of nearly $250 million annually. This support is due in large part to the commissary’s relationship with industry partners – its vendors, suppliers and brokers – responsible for store support, military-only coupons, contributions to installations, promotions and giveaways, and scholarships for military children.

Modern-day benefit begins

The modern-day benefit began after the Civil War. Then, many soldiers were poorly served by sutlers, licensed vendors who often overcharged or provided poor-quality goods. After the war, Congress decided that enlisted men should receive the same shopping privileges officers had already enjoyed for four decades and extended the benefit to all ranks.

The first stock list, approved in 1868, consisted of 82 items, most of which were canned goods. This product selection was similar to the stock lists of contemporary civilian general stores. Eventually, the sales function moved from storehouses to separate buildings, first known as “commissary sales stores” and, later, to “sales commissaries.”

Civilian post traders, who had been permitted to sell anything commissaries did not carry, were abolished in 1893, and the modern exchange system took their place in 1895. To this day, the commissaries and exchanges are separate organizations, with different funding sources.

First overseas stores open

The first overseas commissaries opened in Cuba and the Philippines in 1898-99. After the Navy and Marine Corps opened their first commissary sales stores in 1910, personnel from any service could patronize any commissary run by the other armed services.

When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, it inherited its commissaries from the Army. Each service ran its own stores, first at installation level and later through an agency.

Since 1879, commissaries have used various customer surcharges to help the stores pay for transport, spoilage or construction costs.

Congress establishes surcharge

From 1879-1882, a 10 percent charge was levied on all goods except tobacco. In the 1920s, the stores used a surcharge that varied by location. In 1952, Congress established what has become a permanent surcharge, initially at 3 percent, but in 1983 it was increased to 5 percent. The surcharge is primarily used to cover facility construction and renovation costs.

The list of eligible shoppers has expanded since 1867. Retired officers became eligible in 1879 and retired enlisted men in 1914. All spouses and family members were shopping by the 1930s, although some received the benefit earlier in many locations.

DeCA begins operations

In 1991, to improve efficiency and increase taxpayer savings, Congress and the Department of Defense created the Defense Commissary Agency by consolidating the military services’ separate retail grocery operations. Since then, customer savings have increased from 25 to an average of 30 percent.

Members of the National Guard and Reserve always had partial shopping privileges – essentially, during brief periods of active duty service; but in 2004, in recognition of their vital contributions to the nation’s defense, their increasing duties and extended deployments, National Guard and Reserve personnel were authorized full commissary benefits.

The number of items stocked by commissaries has also increased from the 82 sold in 1868 to the 22,500 items available in the commissary’s largest stores today. “With a legacy of 148 years behind us, we remain committed to providing a valuable commissary benefit to military members, retirees and their families that is cost effective and operationally efficient,” Jeu said. “Whether it’s the 19th century or the 21st century, we exist to serve our patrons.”

NOTE: For photos related to this 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

Defense Commissary Agency updates on its environmental goals

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-4-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Green purchasing, food bank donations and recycling highlight a long list of things the Defense Commissary Agency is doing to reach “net zero waste” and other environmental goals.

The agency has long focused on the reduction of waste, recycling materials, conservation of resources and becoming more energy-efficient overall, said Randy Eller, deputy director of DeCA’s logistics directorate. Today, even more is being done to conserve resources. Commissary customers also have many ways to go green. Commissaries stock green products and offer reusable shopping bags for purchase. Customers can choose from different designs, and there are thermal bags as well. Stores also recycle plastic shopping bags for patrons.

The list of green products sold in commissaries include compact fluorescent lamps, green cleaning products and high-efficiency laundry cleaning products. Also available are waste-reduction products such as paper towels and bathroom tissue without cardboard tubes, so there is nothing to throw away after the last towel is used. The stores also carry organically grown fruits and vegetables.

“We want to give our patrons every opportunity to choose the products they want,” said Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA director and CEO. “If living green and reducing their carbon foot print is how they choose to live we have the products for them. Shopping in the commissary for these products can help them save while they buy green.”

As for the stores, 121 commissaries donate to 99 food banks around the country approved by the Department of Defense as eligible to receive commissary food donations, which helps reduce the amount of organic food waste the stores handle. They can donate all food that is edible but not sellable, according to Robin Armhold, DeCA’s environmental engineer.

“We would like each commissary to have two food banks that they can contribute to,” said Armhold, noting that it not only keeps large amounts of food waste out of area landfills, but it also allows the commissary to help the local community.

“Every day around the world, millions of tons of food waste are simply bagged up and dumped in trash bins destined for the landfill,” she said. “In the U.S. alone, over 40 percent of landfill content is food waste.”

One of DeCA’s goals is to achieve “net zero waste” across the agency. Net zero waste is a “whole systems approach” that changes the way materials flow through an organization, ideally resulting in no waste. DeCA is striving to reduce at least 90 percent of its waste, said Armhold.

“In fiscal 2014, DeCA received almost $4 million in proceeds from items that were recycled,” said Armhold. “The money went to the surcharge fund, which helps to renovate older stores and build new commissaries.”

Over 64,000 tons of cardboard, 1,537 tons of plastic, 837 tons of fats and bones, and 99 tons of kitchen grease have been recycled. Over 5,000 tons of organic waste has been composted, and the stores have donated over 870 tons of food through the food bank program, she said. Stores also recycle plastic that items are shrink-wrapped in.

“Our patrons can feel good about the fact that their commissary is helping others while saving taxpayer dollars,” Armhold said.

Food banks interested in receiving food from commissaries should contact their local store for information on how to apply.

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

Defense Commissary Agency seeks new contractor for its deli and bakery services in 22 commissaries

FORT LEE, Va., 2015-3-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — Deli and bakery services in 22 commissaries in 12 states face temporary suspension today as the Defense Commissary Agency seeks a new contractor. Six of the 22 commissaries have sushi bars that will also be temporarily suspended.

Today’s announcement comes because the agency terminated two deli/bakery service contracts held by Nayyarsons Corporation, a food service company headquartered in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Last month, DeCA did not renew another deli/bakery services contract held by Nayyarsons, an action that impacted 22 other commissaries in nine Midwestern states.

Nayyarsons serves no other commissaries. DeCA currently has nine deli/bakery service contracts with various other vendors serving 112 commissaries.

DeCA’s decision to terminate its two remaining contracts with Nayyarsons for its Great Lakes and Gulf Coast areas was made for the convenience of the commissary customer, said Defense Commissary Agency Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu.

“It was a decision made in the best interest of our customers,” Jeu said. “I want our customers to know that we’re working diligently to get services back to normal.”

Consistent with earlier actions, DeCA is looking at both long-term and interim solutions to offer the valued deli and bakery services for the affected commissaries. An expedited contracting process will be used, and the agency expects to have a new contract in place and operations fully restored by early June.

As an interim solution, to avoid disruption of services, the agency is pursuing the hiring of the outgoing contractor’s eligible workforce on a temporary basis to deliver limited services until a new contractor is brought on board. If a break in deli/bakery services occurs, customers can purchase cold cuts, potato and macaroni salad, fruit and vegetable trays, and similar items in their commissary grocery and produce aisles. Store management has increased product quantities and will bring in new items to help fill in any short-term void.

The 22 commissaries impacted are:

  • Alabama: Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base Annex, Maxwell Air Force Base, Redstone Arsenal, Fort Rucker
  • Arkansas: Little Rock Air Force Base
  • Illinois: Scott Air Force Base, Naval Station Great Lakes
  • Indiana: Harrison Village
  • Kentucky: Fort Campbell, Fort Knox
  • Louisiana: Barksdale Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Fort Polk
  • Michigan: Selfridge Air National Guard Base
  • Mississippi: Columbus Air Force Base, Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Keesler Air Force Base
  • Missouri: Fort Leonard Wood, Whiteman Air Force Base
  • Ohio: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh Area
  • Tennessee: Naval Support Activity Mid-South (Memphis)

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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Defense Commissary Agency seeks new contractor for its deli and bakery services in 22 commissaries

Defense Commissary Agency seeks new contractor for its deli and bakery services in 22 commissaries

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