‘THE RIGHT THING TO DO’: Stateside commissaries continue systematic support of local food banks as need for assistance climbs
FORT LEE, Va. – As the rate of food bank usage has increased in recent years so has the military commissaries’ support of these institutions.
Over a six-year period, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has donated more than 21 million pounds of edible but unsellable food to local food banks – most recently 4.1 million pounds in 2020.
DeCA’s support comes at a critical time for food banks with the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The virus placed a heavier burden on food banks and significantly increased usage in 2020 with more than 13 million more people seeking free meals or free groceries from these institutions for the first time, according to a hunger blog posted March 18 on FeedingAmerica.org.
For commissaries, being a part of the solution is simply the right thing to do, said Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO.
“We are aware the pandemic has put a tremendous strain on food banks that are already pressed to help those who need assistance,” Moore said. “I’m proud that we are connecting with food banks to help where we can.”
Currently, 174 stateside commissaries support 198 food banks designated by DOD to receive donated items certified by food inspectors as being edible but unsellable, said Randy Eller, director of the agency’s logistics directorate.
“The donated amount represents less than 1 percent of our sales, but every bit helps for those who need it,” Eller said. “We’ve seen a steady rate of donated products going to local food banks after the word went out that they could register as a DOD-designated organization.”
According to DOD policy, commissary food can only be donated to organizations designated as follows:
- A nonprofit, charitable food bank exempt from federal income taxation and designated by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs or the Secretary of Health and Human Services to receive such donations
- A state or local agency authorized to receive donations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Food Distribution Division
- A chapter or other local unit of a recognized national veterans’ organization that provides services to veterans without adequate shelter and has been designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as authorized to receive such donations or
- A not-for-profit organization that provides care for homeless veterans and has been designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as authorized to receive such donations
DeCA’s support to food banks is also manifested through the annual USDA-sponsored Feds Feed Families campaign that runs June through October. Through Feds Feed Families, commissaries serve as collection points for their installations with all donations coming from DeCA customers and DOD civilians.
Under the Feds Feed Families program, the local installation commander can decide which local food banks receive the collected donations during the length of the campaign.
For the past 11 years, commissary customers and employees have traditionally set the pace for DOD donations. To date DeCA has collected about 9.8 million pounds. In 2020 alone, DeCA patrons and employees led DOD contributions by collecting nearly 2.3 million pounds of food and personal hygiene items.
To be designated eligible for commissary donations, nonprofit food banks must formally send a request to the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs. Interested parties should contact Mark Charpentier @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-734-8000 x48415.
Commissaries with food bank partnerships, by state:
- Alabama: Gunter Annex, Fort Rucker, Maxwell Air Force Base, Redstone Arsenal)
- Alaska: Anchorage Area, Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Wainwright, Kodiak, Fort Greely
- Arizona: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca, Luke Air Force Base, Yuma Proving Ground, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
- Arkansas: Little Rock Air Force Base
- California: Edwards Air Force Base, Fort Irwin, March Air Reserve Base, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Naval Air Station North Island, Ord Community, Naval Base San Diego, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Naval Air Station Lemoore, San Onofre, Travis Air Force Base, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Fort Hunter-Liggett, McClellan, Moffett Field, Port Hueneme, Beale Air Force Base, Naval Air Facility El Centro
- Colorado: Buckley Air Force Base, Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force Academy
- Connecticut: Naval Submarine Base New London
- Delaware: Dover Air Force Base
- District of Columbia: Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
- Florida: Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, MacDill Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Air Station Key West, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Patrick Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base, Naval Station Mayport
- Georgia: Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Hunter Army Air Field, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Robins Air Force Base, Fort Stewart, Moody Air Force Base,
- Hawaii: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (both commissaries), Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Schofield Barracks
- Idaho: Mountain Home Air Force Base
- Illinois: Naval Station Great Lakes, Rock Island Arsenal, Scott Air Force Base
- Indiana: Harrison Village, Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane
- Kansas: Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley, McConnell Air Force Base
- Kentucky: Fort Campbell, Fort Knox
- Louisiana: Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Polk, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans
- Maine: Bangor Army National Guard Base
- Maryland: Aberdeen Proving Ground, Andrews Air Force Base, Fort Detrick, Fort Meade, Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Forest Glenn, Naval Air Station Patuxent River
- Massachusetts: Hanscom Air Force Base
- Michigan: Selfridge Army National Guard Base
- Mississippi: Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Keesler Air Force Base, Columbus Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Meridian
- Missouri: Fort Leonard Wood, Richards-Gebaur, Whiteman Air Force Base
- Montana: Malmstrom Air Force Base
- Nebraska: Offutt Air Force Base
- Nevada: Nellis Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Fallon
- New Hampshire: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
- New Jersey: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (both commissaries), Picatinny Arsenal
- New Mexico: Cannon Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, Kirtland Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range
- New York: Fort Drum, U.S. Military Academy (West Point), Fort Hamilton, Mitchel Field, Saratoga Springs
- North Carolina: Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Fort Bragg (both commissaries), Marine Corps Air Station New River, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base
- North Dakota: Grand Forks Air Force Base, Minot Air Force Base
- Ohio: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
- Oklahoma: Altus Air Force Base, Fort Sill, Tinker Air Force Base, Vance Air Force Base
- Pennsylvania: Carlisle Barracks, Pittsburgh Area, Tobyhanna Army Depot
- Rhode Island: Naval Station Newport
- South Carolina: Charleston Air Force Base, Naval Weapons Station Charleston, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base
- South Dakota: Ellsworth Air Force Base
- Tennessee: Arnold Air Force Base, Naval Support Activity Memphis
- Texas: Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Dyess Air Force Base, Fort Hood (both commissaries), Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Lackland Air Force Base, Laughlin Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Sheppard Air Force Base, Fort Bliss, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Kingsville
- Utah: Hill Air Force Base
- Virginia: Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee, Fort Myer commissary at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (both commissaries), Naval Air Station Oceana, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Naval Sea Systems Command Dahlgren, Norfolk Naval Shipyard Portsmouth, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Naval Station Norfolk
- Washington: Naval Base Bangor, Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (both commissaries), Smokey Point Naval Supply Complex, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island
- Wisconsin: Fort McCoy
- Wyoming: F.E. Warren Air Force Base
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.