Fort Polk Guardian 09-06-2019

WARRIOR SPIRIT FORGING THE JRTC & FORT POLK GUARDIAN THE COMMISSARY CONCERNS Sept. 6, 2019 Vol. 46, No. 36 FORT POLK, La. — Army instal- lations across the globe take pride in the features and amenities that make them unique, like a modern indoor swimming pool or an expan- sive athletic complex. Some posts are blessed by their exotic location, including those in Hawaii, Italy or Germany. But there are certain facilities that are ubiquitous with Army life and can be found at most any installa- tion: A post exchange, dining facili- ty, library and a commissary. At Fort Polk, the commissary came under scrutiny during an Army Family Action Plan town hall meeting held Aug. 20 Issues con- cerning the quality of some of the food and services were brought up, and similar complaints have been submitted through the Interactive Customer Evaluation system (ICE) since March of 2019.  Defense Commissary Agency of- ficials at the AFAP town hall said they are committed to listening to the issues faced by patrons, and making improvements where need- ed. In keeping with that commit- ment, Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commanding general of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, invited Zone 1 manager for Defense Commissary Agency, Her- bert Winchester, to attend a com- missary town hall meeting Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the commissary. All authorized commissary shoppers are invited to attend the meeting and provide feedback on how Fort Polk’s commissary can be improved to offer a better shopping experi- ence for the Soldiers, retirees and Families that live here. Commissary Officer William Easter said the commissary is clean, carries a variety of international items and offers competitive prices. “We try to maintain the cleanli- nesss of this store through contrac- tor cleaners and our own efforts,” said Easter. “We have a gourmet section that includes German and Cajun products, Thai and Korean food items, and a large selection of Hispanic items on aisles 2 and 3. And our prices are competitive with grocery stores off post.” To stretch those hard-earned dol- lars farther at the commissary, East- er recommends patrons get a sav- ings card from the customer service window, which they can use along with commissary coupons available through the website www.commis- , under the “Savings Cen- ter” window, then under the tab “Coupons.” Easter said the commissary tries to offer a variety of meat cuts. "We carry all USDA meats, in grades from Choice to Angus. We also have organic, grass-fed beef avail- able,” said Easter. The organic offerings don’t stop at the meat counter.  “We have many organic items in the produce section and throughout the store, from cereal to peanut but- ter and jelly, and in the dairy and frozen sections.” To make customers feel welcome, the commissary offers free coffee from 8 a.m. to noon and pick up service for deli orders. “You can make your order at the deli counter, go do the rest of your shopping and when you return, your order is ready,” said Easter. Some of the concerns raised at the AFAP meeting and in the ICE comments involved checkout lines, baggers, expiration dates and out of stock items.  “We have four self-checkout lanes and two service lanes on 7 and 8 where you can bag your own gro- ceries. If a bagger presents themsef at one of these lanes, the customer can tell them they want to bag their own,” said Easter.  “One thing I would like cus- tomers to know is that DeCA em- ployees (cashiers and managers) can assist you in bagging your items, and we do not want tips. We just want to help you.” For clarifica- tion, baggers are not DeCA employ- ees and work for tips. The issues of near out-of-date items and empty shelves are being addressed with distributors and in- dustry management, said Easter. “We have two employees that monitor the chilled items and other dated food items looking for expira- tion dates, and that’s all they do,” he said. “I know that yogurt is the No. 1 item that tends to expire fast, so wee keep a close eye on that. As for empty shelves, I’m concerned about it too. I track everything that’s not in stock, and I monitor the floor for those items daily. If I see a product is out (empty), I go to the back and get the product and place it on the shelves as soon as it comes in.” Easter said the morale of the troops and their Families is his greatest concern. “I am looking forward to the town hall so I can get everyone’s in- put on how we can improve,” he said. “We want your patronage.” The Fort Polk Commissary, bldg 601, is open Tuesday through Fri- day from 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. (early bird and disabled shoppers may enter at 8 a.m.), Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.- 8 p.m., Sundays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and closed Mondays. Town Hall meeting at commissary Sept. 16, 5:30 p.m. with Herbert Winchester, Zone 1 manager, Defense Commissary Agency Upcoming town hall to address issues, concerns at commissary By JEAN DUBIEL Guardian staff writer JEAN DUBIEL / GUARDIAN