The novel coronavirus pandemic (which spreads COVID-19) has been in force for at least four months now, and there’s no end in sight, but we’ve learned a lot more about it in that time. Our families, military community, country and world are also learning more every day about how we can work together to fight the spread of this virus and protect each other, including the most vulnerable among us.
Some of the best tools that individuals have can be wearing masks, washing their hands frequently, socially distancing and staying at home as much as possible. Annoying? Probably. Isolating? Definitely! Continuing to take many of these steps may feel that way, especially after all of this time, but as reports of the virus have begun to increase once again, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are in this together!
Of course, this is partially because these tools are more effective at fighting the virus’ spread when more people use them. But it’s also important to remember that our community is stronger and more resilient together than the sum of its parts. We can band together to help protect those who are most vulnerable to this virus due to underlying conditions, boost each other’s spirits and keep critical supplies flowing.
Throughout this pandemic, Your Commissary’s produce departments have been one example of this principle at work! They have overcome initial concerns of panic-buying and stocking challenges by working with their supply chains to support continued access to nutritious fruits and vegetables for their customers in the military community.
Initially, orders increased by as much as 50% on some products, while demand surged. At the same time, growers and packers were suffering from a shrinking market. Organizations like restaurants, theme parks, cruise lines and schools were no longer purchasing from food service suppliers due to closures, leading some farms to declare bankruptcy and processing plants to pare down their product offerings.
Having the flexibility to source as much local produce as possible and frequent communication between Agency headquarters, commissary management, industry partners and growers helped us overcome these challenges. This required commissaries to forecast orders well in advance, with all parties working to resolve issues with suppliers, trucking companies, installation access, delivery schedules and the like.
“Our store produce departments have done a fantastic job in this unprecedented time, providing great customer service. Our teams are continuously putting the mission of supporting military communities first.”Mike Pfister, Perishables Division Chief
Defense Commissary Agency Store Operations
The Fruits of Our Labor
It was a perfect storm, but we worked through those difficulties with our supply chain, and we expect most produce availability – other than corn – to return to normal going into the summer, which is great news for our customers and the farmers who supply us!
“I have personally been in the fields of our American farmers and have seen the product that is being grown for our military families. One thing that is never lost on me is the pride the farmers feel in knowing that they are supporting our nation’s greatest assets: members of our military community.”Deborah Harris, Registered Dietitian and Health & Wellness Program Manager
Defense Commissary Agency
Using Fresh Fruits & Vegetables as Nutritional Fuel
This is a great example of how the military community can benefit as a whole when people band together at a time like this, but it is also important because of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, as we continue to focus on the importance of properly fueling the bodies of our warriors and their families.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to obtain certain vitamins and minerals that may have effects on how our bodies work to fight off infections – as well as inflammation and swelling – is through foods, such as:
- Vitamin C in fruits and vegetables
- Vitamin D in low-fat milk
- Zinc in lean meat, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds
“A diet high in fruits and vegetables provides key vitamins and minerals to ward off chronic disease and keep your immune system strong.”Deborah Harris
The CDC explains that following good nutrition and otherwise taking care of your body is also part of self-care, which can help people cope with stress that may be related to the pandemic. (Remember the annoyance and isolation I mentioned above? This is one way to help battle it!)
Cooking More Meals at Home with Dietitian-Approved Recipes
Deborah M. Harris, MPH, RDN, CDE, recommends using the increased time at home as an opportunity to make more meals at home by getting the whole family involved in new recipes and fun ways of increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables.
“A great way to get kids to increase their fruit and vegetable intake is to let them choose an item from our produce section and then help you prepare the item for a snack or meal. We have a great selection of dietitian-approved recipes on our website.”Deborah Harris
Your Commissary is in This with You!
At the end of the day, no matter how isolating this pandemic may feel to you, we want you to know that Your Commissary is in this with you.
We continue to work to mitigate the spread of the virus in our stores through actions like having plexiglass shields installed at checkouts, disinfecting shopping carts, putting social distancing tape on our floors and wearing masks. We also continue to work diligently to help ensure you can stock your pantry with the products you need. Your Commissary is proud to be part of the military community, and we are here for you!