The contributions of the Defense Commissary Agency go well beyond groceries. We are more than a grocery store. We want to be stewards of the stew we sell and protect all that is good and is in your pot. While DeCA continues to improve readiness and sustainability for our service members, we go far beyond the benefit you have earned. We want to be more because being standard is not good enough. This year we continue to prove why we are far above standard. Your commissary is making headlines and waves across many avenues.
First things first, we remain good stewards of money. More importantly, we are good stewards of your money. Commissary overall worldwide customer savings exceeded 25 percent for fiscal 2019. This also exceeded our Congressional mandate of customer savings of 23.7 percent. It means we are more efficient at providing your benefit with the money we receive which adds to your pot. The main driver for the customer savings is the cooperation and efforts to drive costs down between our industry partners and our category management teams focusing on the products that you buy most so be sure to keep buying those on your next shopping trip to your commissary.
Secondly, we are good stewards of the stew. We would rather fill a food bank than a landfill. That’s why we surpassed 21 million pounds of food donations to local food banks. Last year alone we donated over 5 million pounds of expired but edible food. The process is still a bit lengthy. Nonprofit food banks must formally send a request to the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs. However, we are pushing to make the process even easier so we can become even better stewards to edible food and add to many pots.
Speaking of stew, we even have actual stew. This is good stew. It is dietitian approved and part of our wellness program to make sure you are fit to fight … and we are making our stew even better. The Nutrition Guide Program (NGP) is a point of sale information system that calls out key nutrient attributes of store products. NGP, with its color-coded shelf tags, serves as an easy-to-use guide for grocery shopping choices highlighting the nutrition attributes of low sodium, low fat, whole grain, no added sugar and great source of fiber. We continue to identify these items and mark them for you in the store.
Finally, we are good stewards of your time. It’s not just about saving money but also readiness means having more time to prepare. We continue to expand our self-checkout kiosks to provide quick exit for patrons with only a few items and limited time. This frees up cashiers to help with patrons that are buying for their little armies at home. It is always good to be stewards of the stew when we have the greatest customers in the world. We will continue to add to your pots with savings, recycling, and by being a part of your community.