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DeCA: More than groceries

DALLAS -- Internet support, gifts, savings and going "green" - not the typical things you would think
about when making out your shopping list. But that's exactly some of the benefits you will get by filling your cupboards with the help of the Commissary. 

Run by the Defense Commissary Agency, the commissary provides groceries to military
personnel, retirees and their families at a savings of an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices - savings worth about $3,000 annually for a family of four, according to DeCA officials. 

But recently DeCA officials have made an upgrade on their Web site that will help customers not only find those and other savings, but also other benefits. 

Some of the new features are: 

· The single biggest addition is its "Ask the DeCA Dietitian," a nutrition forum hosted by Army Reserve Maj. Karen Fauber, a registered dietitian. Customers can exchange questions, comments and experiences on nutrition topics with the DeCA dietitian and other users. 

· The site also helps customers make healthy financial choices by listing what's on sale in the Savings Aisle under the "shopping" tab. Customers can print a list of all items on sale at their local commissary, and find Internet coupons on the "Links" page. 

· For those shoppers that like bigger savings, the comprehensive case-lot sale page is vailable every May and September. This Web page is particularly popular with authorized shoppers who live a long distance from a commissary, but are willing to make a special trip, where savings can run as high as 50 percent, compared to commercial prices, announced Commissary officials. 

· Customers can purchase or donate commissary gift certificates through "Gift of Groceries;" select from more than 100 gift baskets through "Virtual Commissary;" and sign up for commissary news via e-mail through "Commissary Connection." 

· Last, but certainly not least, you will find "Kay's Kitchen" online. If you're stumped about what to prepare for dinner, look for inspiration here, where you'll find lots of quick, easy and nutritional recipes using both classic and diverse ingredients from apples to zucchini. 

In addition to changes to the Internet, patrons can do their part in conserving the Earth's natural resources by purchasing and using reusable cloth bags. The bags, which cost 70 cents each, were introduced into commissaries in October and since then customers have purchased nearly 270,000 at stores worldwide. 

"Commissaries have long been good stewards of taxpayer funds," said Rick Page, DeCA's acting director, "and with reusable shopping bags, we're applying the same sort of thrifty approach to how we use the earth's natural resources." 

DeCA's reusable bag is made of sturdy mesh, sewn together from 100-percent polypropylene. They are strong enough to hold 30 pounds of groceries and approximately three-quarters of the bulk amount of a paper bag. The reusable bags are machine washable and can be recycled when no longer usable. Customers can find these bags on racks near the checkout at the commissary. 

So, whether you are trying to save money or save the environment, the Commissary is
your ticket to success.

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