By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – The Defense Commissary Agency is partnering with a national anti-substance-abuse organization to promote the concept of families dining together as a means of establishing healthy lifestyles for young people, a DeCA spokesperson said today. "Since we're the food leader for the military, anything that has to do with family quality and family lifestyles and focuses on eating is a good thing for us to be involved in," said Bonnie Powell during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service from her organization's headquarters at Fort Lee, Va.
DeCA will support and celebrate "Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children" Sept. 25, Powell said. Children of families that regularly eat together are less likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Such children also get better grades.
Founded in 1992, CASA is a New York City-headquartered national organization that studies alcohol, nicotine, illegal and prescription drug addictions and other substance abuse in order to combat them. CASA created Family Day in 2001 and President Bush supports the initiative each year. Last year, 1.3 million Americans pledged to have a family dinner.
"We'd like to see military active duty, retirees and Guard and reserve families double that amount," Defense Commissary Agency Director Patrick Nixon said in a recent DeCa news release. The Department of Defense Education Activity is partnering with DeCA, Powell said, by encouraging its more than 200 stateside and overseas schools to team with local military commissaries to spread the word about Family Day.
"When parents and students dine together, they have an opportunity to discuss education and school issues," DoDEA spokesperson Frank O'Gara noted in the DeCA release.
"These discussions lead to greater parental involvement and interest," O'Gara continued, "and can go a long way in fostering success for all children." The Coca Cola Company's military sales division, Powell said, is sponsoring a contest for a military family to win a trip to New York to experience a healthy dinner cooked up by famous chef Sandra Lee. Registration for the contest will be conducted throughout September on DeCA's Web site.
And, any Fisher House manager who plans family dinners for guests on Sept. 25 will receive $200 worth of donated commissary gift certificates, Powell said. Fisher Houses are comfort homes for military families to stay near loved ones undergoing treatment at military medical facilities.
The National Military Family Association recommends that children can do some commissary shopping for deployed military parents, Powell reported. Young family members, she said, can pick out a favorite food to send to an overseas-deployed parent.
The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries, providing groceries to military members, retirees, and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized commissary shoppers can realize an average of 30 percent or more in savings compared to commercial prices. Officials say that equates to savings worth about $2,700 annually for a family of four.