Speak up or shop until your Commissary benefits are dropped

Are military families' Commissary benefits in jeopardy?Growing up, the Commissary was just the store we went to where I got to push the cart and be denied candy. At the time I didn’t understand that there was a benefit to shopping there, but as an adult (an adult without military privileges) I understand just how much you can save by shopping at the Commissary instead of the local Safeway.

Military families that shop at the Commissary save up to 30% more on their grocery bill than civilian families, however, these savings are in jeopardy. In a measure to cut spending, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has suggested cutting the $1.5 billion subsidy the Department of Defense spends on Commissary operating costs. In addition to possibly losing the subsidy, military families’ Commissary benefits could also be affected by looming sequestration cuts should debt agreements not be reached by January 2nd. That’s just three weeks away! With government funding cut by 9.4%, prices could be raised, hours could be restricted, and staff could be reduced in order to absorb some of the shock.

Many families value the Commissary’s savings so much that they are already willing to drive over an hour a few times a month to stock up on groceries. Families overseas are able to purchase favorites from back home without having to pay import prices.

Here’s what other military families have been saying:

“Commissary privileges are a valued asset to the military way of life. We need the subsidy and without it, it would make for a hardship on many of our lower enlisted soldiers and their Families.”

“Please be considerate when looking at our commissary benefit. There are bases across the country that without a commissary service members and dependents would be driving for 30 minutes or more to buy groceries at higher prices.”

“Support our military and our military benefits, which are so important to the morale and welfare of all those who serve and go into harm’s way. Veterans depend on their military benefits and have fought to defend our country. Our military deserve the very best as they give their very best to defend our country.”

Now’s the time to speak up—contact your member of Congress (House and Senate) and let them know what the Commissary benefit means to you.

Military families, how would your life be affected if your Commissary benefits were altered?

maranathaPosted by Maranatha Bivens, Communications Editor
at the National Military Family Association


Add yours
  1. 1
    Taunya Offdenkamp

    Even as a widow having to drive 120 miles to get to the Base, I still save a lot of money by shopping at the commissary. I get to go 1-2 times a month and it is well worth it for me. I would have to drive 50 miles in the other direction to get to the nearest store for groceries and then have to spend twice as much. I would not be able to buy as much stuff as I need.

    I hope that this is not one of their budget cuts.

  2. 2
    Kris Baker

    I have shopped at the commissary for the last 17 years, most of this has been here in California. In the last year I have noticed a huge cost increase in the cost of all products there. With this increase plus the surcharge added to the bill, it is nolonger cost effective to do all my shopping there. A large portion is now done in town, where I am not charged taxes or a surcharge and can earn points for reduced gas.

  3. 3

    This one benfit as a recently retired famiy would like to keep. I still save money going to the commissary and for those familes who live overseas it is a must. Like living in Hawaii where a gallon of milk out in town is $9 and in the commissary is $4. It is a benefit that should remain!!!!

  4. 4

    I personally find it cost more to go to the Commissary. Meat definitely cost me more. I know that can depend on what meant you buy, but what I use is always cheaper at my local, then I use my rewards card and save even more. The few times I have been the fruit and veg isn’t as fresh as it is at my local and even with the tax, Its less then the surcharge that is applied to the overall total value of each commissary purchases. I think its 5 or 6%.
    I think its more of a habit for many and its been drilled into them that is is cheaper, because it truly once was. I wish I could see this so-called 33% savings because I end up paying more when I shop off base.

  5. 5

    The commissary must be hands off as one of the principle targets regarding budget cuts. Every time I shop at the commissary, I see young mothers and fathers buying formula and gallons of milk and diapers for young children and I am reminded of how I did the same almost 25 years ago. This is where we purchase fresh fruits and vegetables within our already restricted budgets, but can still sample exotic fruits from countries we have never been to. This is where we expose our children to new tastes and smells in the culinary world, other than the local ‘Wally World’ when you are a young enlisted family living in what seems to be the edge of no where. The commissary is not only a reasonably priced store to shop at but the safest place for a military family! I place my family’s health and safety and economic resources high on the list of priorities and I feel that Washington should start doing the same. The tax (or surcharge) is the same as it is out in (my) town so why wouldn’t I use my commissary as an earned benefit?
    I am: 1. Safer. 2. It is cleaner. 3. It is closer for me. 4. The food is fresher and I have more choices. 5. You CANNOT beat the truckload sales anywhere!
    We have run the comparisons and what I pay $120.00 for at the commissary I spend $189+ for out in town and I usually have to go to two stores for. I have not even factored in my gas.

  6. 6

    I agree with neriumgirl. Our family truly appreciates the value and service provided by our commissary. It is far and above cleaner and safer than our local Wally World, and has much better prices and selection that our local supermarkets. I always find meat and produce cheaper and of higher quality at the commissary than anywhere else (and I am a comparison shopper). For us, the surcharge is no more costly than paying sales tax. We don’t have to wait in ridiculously long lines, and living near the base makes the commissary convenient, a major plus when your base is way out of town. I take advantage of the case lot sales, as well. All around, the commissary is a great benefit for this military family.

  7. 7
    Shana Pittman

    I also find that it costs me more to shop at the commissary. Especially when I live in places like Delaware, where there is no sales tax. I also find it absolutely deplorable that on the 1st and 15th of each month (those hi-tech digital shelf prices make it as easy as a click of a button) the Shaw AFB Commissary raises prices on things like bread, sandwich meat, cheese, and dairy (just a few that we noticed). When a complaint was lodged with the manager he replied “We can’t control what the supplier charges us, and when they raise our cost, we raise yours.” When I am stateside, you will no longer find me in any commissary.

  8. 8
    Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

    Thanks to all commenters for letting us know how important the commissary benefit is to you and your family. Information like this helps us when we represent military families to decision makers.

    To clarify for those who might not know, goods sold at the commissary are sold at cost plus 5%. The 5% surcharge is mandated by Congress and it goes to pay for improvements to the commissary and new construction. Do you live in an area with a renovated commissary or a new commissary? You and your fellow military families helped fund these improvements.

    For more answers to frequently asked questions about the commissary, visit the DeCA website: http://www.commissaries.com/documents/contact_deca/faq.cfm

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