Commissaries continue delivering benefit while prioritizing safety of customers, employees during COVID-19 pandemic
FORT LEE, Va. – Amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the Defense Commissary Agency is reassuring its customers and employees that their health and welfare is the commissaries’ top priority.
“We exist to enrich our customers’ quality of life by providing significant savings on their groceries, and they can rest assured that we will do so safely and efficiently,” said William F. Moore, DeCA director.
“As we deliver the commissary benefit, the safety of our valued customers and dedicated employees remains our No. 1 priority especially during this unprecedented time,” he added. “We continue to follow strict DOD health protection in our stores, specifically regarding sanitary measures, face coverings and social distancing.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeCA has implemented the following measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus in commissaries:
- Commissaries conduct daily health screenings of anyone who works in commissaries – including employees, baggers and affiliated contractors – before they start their shifts
- Anyone (including customers) entering a store must wear a face covering
- Stores have clear plastic sneeze shields in all regular checkout lanes
- Commissary personnel wipe down checkout areas, product display cases, restrooms and shopping carts with disinfectant, and practice routine hand washing and other basic sanitation measures
- Touchless credit card processing eliminates the need for the customer to sign
- Customers scan their own ID cards so cashiers can provide them touchless transactions
- Reusable bag usage has been banned
- DeCA canceled special events such as the spring sidewalk sales, in-store product demonstrations (including DeCA’s free coffee program), group tours, vendor-sponsored events and other events to discourage group gatherings
- Commissaries are working with installation leadership and public health personnel to implement risk reduction practices specific to that base.
From a product availability standpoint, DeCA continues to work with its industry suppliers to increase deliveries to commissaries where the need is greatest – especially overseas – to ensure product availability, particularly on items that are in high demand like liquid sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper.
Store directors have the flexibility to determine item limitations based on supplier availability and customer demand. These actions help stores control stock outs and panic buying, Moore said.
“At this time, when the industry-wide grocery logistics system is being stressed, we want our customers to know we are aggressively partnering with the supplier community to fix any shortages and ensure our military patrons have shelves full of what they need over the holidays,” he said. “There is no need for panic buying. If they happen to see empty shelves in the store, we ask them to please be patient – the store will be restocked often the very next day.”
Customers should continue to refer to DeCA’s Coronavirus page for updates related to commissaries. For overall updates and guidance regarding this virus, they are encouraged to access the following websites: the federal government’s response to COVID-19 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus site.
PHOTO CAPTION: Marines check out their groceries at the Fort Lee, Virginia, Commissary. (DeCA photo: Kevin Robinson)
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, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. 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.