FORT LEE, Va. – Commissaries are on a mission to help active troops avoid unhealthy fast food. To do that, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has rolled out Dietitian-Approved Fueling Stations, offering nutritious and cost-effective alternatives at many of its stores.
September marked the end of a nine-month rollout with 174 commissaries now sporting the fueling stations near their front-end checkout aisles. Twenty-four stores have stations in Europe; 17 in the Pacific. Check the Dietitian-Approved Fueling Stations listing on the DeCA website for station locations (https://www.commissaries.com/fueling_stations).
DeCA’s latest nutritious initiative is perfect for the military members on the go, said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the agency director.
“Our message to our active customers is simple: Don’t undo all of your progress from fitness training, or gains from hitting the gym, with a high-calorie drive-thru meal,” he said. “Come refuel the right way with us at your commissary.”
Since introducing its fueling station coolers, DeCA has seen a 200-percent increase in sales of the fueling station items from January through August.
The stations, conveniently located in the front of the store, vary in size and makeup based on available space. The lineup of snacks and meal options are approved by Deborah Harris, DeCA’s dietitian and health and wellness program manager, MPH, RD, CDCES (master of Public Health degree, registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist).
“Our fueling stations offer tasty, nutritious meals and snacks that help maximize your performance through nutrient dense foods, while also saving time and money with quick and easy selections,” Harris said.
Customers can expect to see products that offer protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates and a low-calorie form of hydration from the following categories:
• Single-serve options of snacks and meals including the option for many stores offering deli sandwiches
• Chilled, flavored or unflavored no calorie or low-calorie waters and sports drinks
• Single-serving hummus
• Packets of ready-to-eat lean protein, fruits and cheese
• No-added-sugar yogurts
• Low-sugar protein bars
• Prepared sliced fruits and salads
The refueling station launch followed the commissaries’ release of the new Dietitian-Approved Thumb (DAT) program which uses DeCA-designed software to analyze and identify products in most of the commissary food categories based on FDA-defined health attributes. The attributes analyzed identify dietitian-approved foods that limit added sugar, sodium and unhealthy fat while offering whole grains, healthy fats, fiber or lean protein.
Both programs illustrate the commissaries’ support of the military community related to the mission readiness and resilience, and how the benefit supports the health and wellness of service members throughout their careers and afterwards, Saucedo said.
“Commissaries have a significant role in the military’s ‘Fueling for Performance,’ campaign,” Saucedo said. “Our fueling stations help offer cost-effective options that connect the importance of nutrition and diet to overall readiness.
“So the next time you are headed to the field or need to stock your barracks or office fridge, go to your local commissary,” he added. “We’re here to help you maintain your mission readiness and your fitness with our Dietitian-Approved Fueling Stations.”