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     ConAgra Foods is committed to the health and wellness of our consumers. As one of North America's favorite food companies, we recognize that it's important not only to have tasty meals that fit busy schedules, but also to ensure our food solutions are nutritious.

     The Start Making Choices™ program exemplifies this commitment. Start Making Choices incorporates flavorful, convenient, and nutritious ConAgra Foods products into personalized nutrition, activity, and well-being plans that can put people on the road to a more balanced lifestyle. With Start Making Choices, we are demonstrating how healthful foods can fit into an overall approach to wellness that is enjoyable, practical, and achievable.

Helping consumers achieve a better balance

Start making choices

This free online program makes it easy for people to balance nutrition, activity, and well-being in their lives. When members join, they receive:

  • Personal planning and tracking tools

  • Articles, blogs, and podcasts

  • New tools, tasty ideas, and recipe makeovers

  • Expert advice from Dr. James Rippe, M.D., a leading authority on balanced living 

 Find brand name diapers and wipes online including Huggies, Pampers, Luvs and more.

Deployed troops' calls home expected to “surge” 

DALLAS –Deployed troops know there’s no better sound than a loved one’s voice during the holidays. In fact, last year Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors deployed in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom responded, scooping up almost 80,000 Military Exchange Global Prepaid Phone cards in November and December alone, ultimately spending some 23 million minutes on the phone at telecommunication centers throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

To help keep telecommunication costs low for troops far from home and provide an affordable avenue for every American to make a tangible impact on deployed troops’ morale, AAFES’ “Help Our Troops Call Home” program continues to improve military Families’ quality of life.

“This initiative goes far beyond a service member soldiering in the desert,” said Eaton. “Phone calls home can also impact how a child is doing in school or even a spouse’s ability to manage the hectic season. Add it all up and it becomes pretty clear that phone calls home aren’t just a luxury, they’re a quality of life issue for the entire Armed Forces community.”

Any American can help keep military Families connected by logging on to or calling 800-527-2345. From there, Global Prepaid Phone cards can be sent to individual service members (designated by the sender) or even directed to "any service member" through various charitable partners. 

Since “Help Our Troops Call Home” began in April 2004, the American public has placed 131,503 individual orders for more than 222,000 Military Exchange Global Prepaid phone cards. More than 24,000 of these orders have been earmarked for “any service member” and distributed via charities such as the American Red Cross, Air Force Aid Society, Fisher House Foundation, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Soldier & Family Assistance Center and USO.

‘Exchange Select’ Quality and Price Registering with Military Families

by Anstey Judd, AAFES

DALLAS – Military shoppers in search of the best value for their dollar are increasingly reaching for “private label” products manufactured under the Exchange Services’ “Exchange Select” brand. The steady demand for affordably priced, quality products by the military community continues to drive expansion of the Exchange Select brand, available exclusively at Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Exchanges, Veterans Canteen Service locations and Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) BXs and PXs.

“We introduced 67 new ‘Exchange Select’ items in 2006 including value pack diapers and baby wipes, whitening pre-brush oral rinse and smoking cessation gum,” said AAFES’ Senior Vice President of Sales Maggie Burgess. “The entire portfolio now includes 557 unique items, all priced to deliver substantial savings.”

Whether shopping for health and beauty care items, household cleaning and laundry products or even a single-use camera, Exchange Select products offer quality that is equal to or better than equivalent national brands at an average savings of 50 percent.

“Our Quality Assurance team actively ensures the quality of ‘Exchange Select’ merchandise by visiting suppliers’ plants to verify ‘Good Manufacturing Practices,’ as set by the Food and Drug Administration as well as other governing agencies, are used,” said Burgess. “In fact, all over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, meet FDA established guidelines, which are the same for ‘Exchange Select’ and national brand equivalent products.”

Name brand quality combined with “private label” pricing continues to attract military shoppers as “Exchange Select” sales have increased 30 percent since the brand was first introduced in the summer of 2002. As a result, the Exchange Services continue to broaden their “private label” assortment through line extensions in existing categories and expansion into new programs.

“Exchange Select” stock assortment additions currently in development include oatmeal based baby toiletries, women’s premium triple-blade disposable razors, sugar-free cough drops, plastic applicator tampons and “custom-size-it” paper towels.

Cold tastes of home help deployed troops beat the summer heat

DALLAS – With temperatures soaring and personnel numbers surging, troops throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom are reaching for cool drinks to beat the heat and keep up with the demanding pace of contingency operations.

“Deployed Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines need significantly more to drink than the traditional eight glasses of water a day,” said Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) spokesperson Lt. Col. Dean Thurmond. “In fact, uniformed personnel serving in the Middle East may need to drink about 50 8-oz. glasses a day. Take it from me, drinking that much liquid in 24 hours can make even the most regimented person thirsty for some variety.” 

Deployed troops looking for a change last month made Monster and Red Bull Energy Drinks two of the three most popular items at 51 BX/PXs scattered throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Monster, which came in at number one with troops picking up 357,956 16-oz. cans, was followed by 248,267 bottles of Green Tea while Red Bull checked in at number three as 205,799 8.3-oz. metallic blue and silver cans were gulped down in just 30 days.

With average high temperatures already hovering between 98 and 105, Thurmond said demand for coffee remains surprisingly strong in exchanges in the Middle East. “Keep in mind, AAFES isn’t sending your grandpa’s steaming cup of instant ‘joe’ to the desert. Instead of brewing up pots of coffee, BX/PXs in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom depend on large coolers to keep the java ice cold.”

The exchange service’s coolers earned their keep in April as BX/PXs downrange moved more than 390 million gallons of Starbucks Frappuccinos and Doubleshosts as troops “popped the top” on 131,353 9.5-oz. Vanilla Frappuccinos, 126,662 9.5-oz. Mocha Frappuccinos and 119,963 6.5-oz. Doubleshots.

Any American can send deployed troops a cool drink this summer, and skip the more than $30 postage needed to pack and send four 16-oz. cans to Iraq via Airmail Parcel Post, with a BX/PX gift certificate that can be redeemed at any AAFES exchange, including 26 facilities in Iraq alone.

AAFES Delivers Taste of Home Downrange

“We’ve done the heavy lifting,” said the AAFES’ Chief of Contingency Planning Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “Other than homemade cookies and handwritten letters, almost anything you would want to pack up and send to a service member far from home is already on the ground and available at the exchange.”

Started soon after programs that allowed the general public to send mail addressed to "Any Service Member" were cancelled due to security concerns and transportation constraints, AAFES’ military gift certificate campaign allows anyone to make a direct and tangible contribution to military morale with a gift certificate that can be redeemed for nearly anything that a specific service member wants.

“Gifts from the Homefront” can be sent to troops deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas by logging on to or calling 877-770-4438. From there, “Gifts from the Homefront” are sent to individual service members (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to “any service member” through the Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Fisher House, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence® or USO.

DALLAS – It began with the opening of a Burger King at Baghdad International Airport on June 10, 2003. Little more than a take-out stand, Iraq’s first Burger King was soon turning out 5,000 patties a day for a steady line of hungry troops.

With the opening of the 11th Pizza Hut in Iraq last month, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) now operates 190 Name Brand Fast Food (NBFF) restaurants throughout Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). In the next month, AAFES plans to complete a new Burger King at Camp Bucca in Iraq, build a Starbucks Coffee shop and redesign the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs with seating at Camp Buehring and replace Kuwait’s oldest Subway shop with a new modern facility at Ali Al-Salem AB. 

“The entire dining experience is designed to remind the Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors of home,” said AAFES Contingency Planning Chief Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “From the aroma of a burger sizzling on the broiler to the smell of fresh coffee, NBFF has an amazing ability to temporarily take troops from war zones to comfort zones.”

AAFES’ NBFF operations in Iraq alone have gone from that single Burger King in 2003 to more than 70 establishments today, including 12 Subways, 12 Pizza Huts, 10 Burger Kings and five Taco Bells. From Afghanistan to Qatar to the United Arab Emirates, troops can also choose from a wide variety of restaurants such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius and Hardee’s, among others.

In addition to the name brand fast food facilities operating in OEF/OIF, AAFES operates more than 2,000 restaurants worldwide with an additional 77 locations planned to open in the next year.

Save Room for the Homemade Cookies When Supporting Deployed Troops

DALLAS – Nothing brightens the day of a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman more than a care package filled with special items from home. Unfortunately, as the holidays approach and well-meaning Americans step up troop support efforts, many of the handwritten cards and homemade cookies take longer to reach their destinations.

“Ultimately the boxes of batteries, toothbrushes and shaving cream can delay some much needed and requested items from friends and family,” said the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. “While any and all support is very much appreciated, those who choose to ‘support our troops’ this holiday season should consider whether the items they are collecting and mailing are truly needed.”

Today, AAFES operates 53 PX/BX facilities throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. The stock assortment found in these exchanges varies from location to location, but even the most basic operation provides access to toiletries, phone cards and cold drinks.

Any American can provide these and many more items to deployed troops by ordering a lightweight “Gift from the Homefront” gift certificate for less than it costs to send a 1 lb. package.

With the PX/BX certificates, available at or 877-770-4438, troops can pick up all of the toothpaste, socks or even Burger King Whoppers they want. “Gifts from the Homefront” are not only redeemable at exchanges throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, but can also be used at any of the 187 name brand fast food outlets AAFES operates in the contingency theater.

“Exchange gift certificates provide an affordable and efficient troop support option that can mitigate the impact America’s generosity can have on holiday mail from spouses, parents and friends,” said Eaton. “Speeding delivery of these critical items is one of the best possible gifts we can send troops spending the holidays far from home.” 

Those wishing to send "Gifts from the Homefront" can log on or call 877-770-4438. From there, the gift certificates may be sent to an individual service member (designated by the purchaser) or distributed to "any service member" through the Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, Fisher House, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence®, Soldier & Family Assistance Center, USA Cares or USO.
As of Nov. 1, 71,153 “Gifts from the Homefront” gift certificates have been sent since the inception of the troop support campaign in March 2003. More than 19,000 of these have been delivered to service members and their families via AAFES’ 10 charitable partners.

AAFES Marks Four Years of Service and Support to American Troops in Iraq

DALLAS – Armed with little more than backpacks and footlockers full of energy drinks, protein bars and baby wipes flown into Iraq aboard a C-130 flying 300 ft. off the ground, two Americans, Craig Sewell and Dennis Hatcher, launched Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) “combat retail” operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 7, 2003. On that day, AAFES’ first mobile exchange in Iraq was actually an old Toyota Landcruiser Sewell and Hatcher commandeered to follow troops patrolling what was previously an Iraqi airfield south of Baghdad.

“The environment was very austere,” said Sewell, AAFES’ Vice President assigned to the Strategic Partnership Directorate. “While there wasn’t running water or power, and we had limited shelter, we understood that we were there to provide service regardless of the conditions. With the battle for Baghdad still in full swing, and enemies launching multiple attacks on the airfield during the evening sandstorms, this was one of the most challenging missions I have supported in my nearly 30 years of service with the exchange.”

Four years later, the footlockers, backpacks and even the Landcruiser have been scrapped in favor of a sophisticated supply chain that leverages air, ground and sea assets to deliver the exchange benefit to Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines throughout the Operation Iraqi Freedom theater. This logistics pipeline ensures 26 BX/PX facilities, 24 unit-run exchange operations, 63 name brand fast food restaurants and hundreds of services, including barber, beauty and laundry, have the goods needed to deliver a slice of Americana to troops called to serve far from home.

“AAFES started with absolutely nothing in Iraq,” said AAFES’ Chief of Contingency Operations Lt. Col. Steven Dean. “While name brand fast food was just a distant hope on that April day in 2003, troops deploying today have convenient access not only to BX/PXs, but also dozens of recognizable restaurant brands including Burger King, Taco Bell and Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits.”

Making sure the food is hot and exchange shelves are stocked is a force of more than 390 American civilians voluntarily deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom at any given time. These AAFES associates, many of whom have deployed multiple times, live and work alongside the troops they serve during 6- to 12-month deployments. Since 9/11, 1,890 of these brave, everyday Americans have voluntarily left the comforts of their homes and families to extend the exchange benefit to troops craving a well-deserved taste of home.

While long-term, international operations continue in the Middle East, AAFES is also prepared to support natural disaster and contingencies closer to home with a fleet of state-of-the-art mobile retail facilities that come complete with satellite communications, coolers and built-in shelving.

Called Tactical Field Exchange, or TFEs, these units are often the first resources to be deployed to domestic emergencies. Staged at various locations throughout the United States, including AAFES’ sprawling Distribution Center in Waco, Texas, the TFEs have been redesigned using lessons learned not only Iraq, but also operations throughout North America including support of firefighters in Washington State last summer as well as relief operations in the wake of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005. Armed with the information that can only be learned in these extreme conditions, AAFES’ Waco Facilities Management Office was on the forefront of designing the new TFEs, from the ground up, to better service the field needs of both troops and emergency responders.

“They have everything necessary to be a ‘turn-key’ operation,” said Lt. Col. Dean. “These new TFEs give AAFES’ Commanding General a 48-hour response capability for any contingency occurring in the United States. AAFES has deployed these TFEs to many locations already with terrific results for our deployed military.”

After nearly 112 years in military resale it is hard to imagine there would be much more the Department of Defense’s oldest and largest exchange service could learn about retail, but since Sewell and Hatcher ventured out onto Iraq’s back roads in 2003, the AAFES team has learned more about its people, services and support than those who created the exchange service in 1895 could have ever imagined.

“Our military and civilian personnel have demonstrated time and again that they are ready, willing and able to go where the troops go for as long as America’s Armed Forces are called to serve in harm’s way,” said AAFES’ Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. “These past four years in Iraq are not only important because of the support we have delivered to those ‘on the ground,’ but also troops we will serve in the future because today AAFES is better prepared than ever before to fulfill its motto, ‘We Go Where You Go.’


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Save by combining trips to the commissary and exchange

 By Bonnie Powell, DECA

  FORT LEE , Va. – According to a recent survey released by the Urban Land Institute, more than 80 percent of American drivers say they now combine trips to save gas. Although military shoppers stateside are not totally unique, they do have different shopping patterns from the average American.

 Military shoppers overseas are more used to combining trips or shopping on the installation for familiar products and services, but in the United States , active duty military living off the installation, retirees, or Guard and Reserve families often drive as much as 30 miles or more to take advantage of the tremendous savings offered at their commissaries and exchanges.

 “Higher gas prices may be convincing military shoppers to make fewer trips, but they seem to be buying more when they do make the trip,” said Patrick Nixon, chief executive officer and acting director of the Defense Commissary Agency.

 A commissary shopper survey conducted by a major manufacturer in 2004 indicated that while 56 percent of shoppers combined commissary and exchange shopping, nearly 40 percent indicated they made separate trips.

 “Understanding that we share the same group of authorized customers, exchange planners have been focused on working cooperatively with DeCA and installation commands to co-locate the commissary and the exchange whenever possible,” said Army and Air Force Exchange Service Commander Maj. Gen. Bill Essex. “By working together we hope to encourage military families to strengthen both benefits by combining them into one visit.”

 “Most people know ahead of time what they need to buy and with a little planning they can make a day of it,” said Nixon. “By combining trips they can go to the exchange, the bank or credit union, and dry cleaners – and make the commissary the last stop so they can head right home with their groceries.”

 A few other tips to increase the savings at your commissary and exchange:

·         Clip coupons. In 2005 commissary customers used 138 million coupons for a total savings of almost $98 million.

·         Be selective. In addition to great savings on clothing, electronics and more, the “Exchange Select” program offers more than 450 quality products at prices far below equivalent national brands.

·          Bring a cooler and stock up on a variety of top quality meats at the commissary. The prices are well below comparable meats found outside the gate.

·          Log on. The Exchange Catalog and Exchange Online store at offer troops and their families more than 25,000 items via the online site, thousands of items from virtual vendor partners and hundreds of thousands of items from partners.

·         Virtual Commissary at is also tapping into customer interest for online purchases. The service began last fall with an assortment of gift baskets and will continue to grow along with industry and customer interest.

·         Guard and Reserve families can get together and take a van trip to their nearest installation. It is a great way to meet new friends and decrease your gas expense.

·         Find out what’s on sale ahead of time at your exchange by logging onto the AAFES Web site at or the NEXCOM Web site at Shopping information for Marine exchanges is located at

·         Check out what’s on sale at the commissary at the “savings aisle” under the shopping link at DeCA is not allowed to advertise prices outside the store, but you can print out a list of items on sale in your commissary. The sale prices will be below regular price. Commercial vendors can advertise commissary sale prices and those commercial circulars are accessible online through the links page at

 CAM is for you

“CAM” stands for Commissary Awareness Month – a time when all commissary patrons can learn more about how to make the most of their commissary benefit. With the constant influx of new members in the military, each year DeCA uses the month of May to spread the word about why and how we deliver the premier commissary benefit to the armed services community. At installations around the world a variety of activities and promotions are especially designed to reach new and single service members. With extensive health and wellness sections, lean meats, fresh produce, organics and more, commissaries offer “healthy food at healthy savings” to all our customers – whether married or single, active duty, Guard, Reserve or retired.


Check out the brand new My Pyramid Web site from the USDA and get a customized food guide! And don't forget to look for extra savings on our links page, where you will find pointers to coupons you can download from commercial providers as well as commercial newsletters, circulars and links to other Web sites that may be of interest. The Defense Commissary Agency is not responsible for the content of commercial Web sites and links are provided solely for customer information.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service Food Facilities Garner Top Honors

DALLAS – With 2,063 fast food restaurants serving troops from Ft. Bragg to Baghdad, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) feeds tens of thousands of military families everyday. After more than two decades of aggressive expansion through a combination of commercial franchise partnerships and “signature-brand” offerings, the size and scope of AAFES’ name brand fast food portfolio is garnering accolades from some of the food industry’s biggest organizations.

AAFES, the military command with a retail mission, started the month of October with notification that it had been named an “outstanding franchisee” by the world’s largest submarine sandwich franchise, SUBWAYÒ. “AAFES was selected from among 24 regional finalists from around the world,” said AAFES’ Vice President of Food and Theater Roy Robertson. “The Franchisees of the Year are honored for their accomplishments in sales and community involvement as well as their efforts to build awareness of the SUBWAYÒ brand within their community.”

In addition to the individual honor, AAFES will receive recognition from the entire food industry when AAFES picks up a 2006 Golden Chain Award at the Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) Conference on Oct. 17 in Dallas, Texas. The MUFSO Conference, which each year attracts the industry's leading chain executives, entrepreneurs, business experts, analysts and commentators, will be held at Dallas' Hilton Anatole Hotel from Oct. 15 to 18.

“AAFES’ partnership with 37 fast food brands is paying great dividends for military families,” said Robertson. “The burgers, pizzas and tacos AAFES delivers awakens every sense – smell, sight, taste and feel – to provide a literal ‘slice of home.’ Delivering these familiar products to military customers at locations across the globe, including 176 fast food facilities in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, is critical in allowing AAFES to meet its dual mission to provide quality goods and services at competitively low prices and generate earnings to support Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.”

Last year, fast food operations not only helped AAFES accomplish the first part of its mission to deliver quality products, but also aided in the return of $229 million for critical MWR efforts, producing a per capita dividend of $234 for every Soldier and Airman. In the past 10 years, the sales of goods and services like fast food have allowed AAFES to contribute more than $2.4 billion to military MWR programs to spend on quality of life improvements, including: Youth Services, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, arts and crafts, post functions and golf courses.

In addition to partnerships with public chains like Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits, Burger King and Baskin Robbins, AAFES also operates more than 500 “signature-brand” operations such as Anthony’s Pizza, Franks Franks and Wok’s Works. “Troops not only appreciate the familiarity of the branded products, but also recognize that AAFES’ exclusive military-only concepts provide excellent value and taste for the entire military family,” said Robertson. “The concepts have become so well know by military customers that we’ve even had some retirees approach us about franchising the ‘signature-brand’ concepts on the civilian sector.” 

Personal Shoppers Bring Comfort to Hospitalized Troops

By Jennifer Johnsen, HQ AAFES Public Affairs

  DALLAS – Since the beginning of the war on terror in September 2001, almost 13,000 troops have been injured in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Sadly, many of those troops are evacuated from contingency locations to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany often with no personal belongings, other than the clothes they are wearing. With the help of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) implementation of Public Law 1559, many evacuated patients are assisted by AAFES personal shoppers who supply them with the items they need.

 “Wounded service members don’t even have to leave the hospital. We go to the Exchange and bring fresh and comfortable clothing to Landstuhl’s wounded service members,” said Christine Curry, AAFES associate and personal shopper. AAFES associates assist injured service members by visiting AAFES shopping centers at Ramstein AB or Vogelweh Military Complex to pick up clothing and shoes. “This program is a great morale booster, especially since it’s unexpected,” adds Curry. “Several of them have invited us back to check out the clothing they are wearing as they prepared to leave for home.”

 A clothing request form is used to indicate each service member’s sizes, such as waist and length for pants, shoe size, and normal shirt size. The service members can also request special items that make their injuries more comfortable such as sleeveless shirts for arm and shoulder injuries, loose shorts or zip away pants for leg injuries, and hats or scarves for head injuries. Most service members request comfortable clothing such as athletic shorts, t-shirts, and wind suits, for stays in the hospital, and jeans and a polo shirt for the trip home. Levi’s jeans, Dockers slacks, and ankle socks are the most requested items.

 Section 1319 of Public Law 1559 allows AAFES to allocate $250 towards the purchase of civilian clothing to qualifying service members who arrive at several military hospitals. To qualify for the allotment, service members must be medically evacuated from Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, or Iraqi Freedom. Ramstein Air Base Exchange has processed 14,364 vouchers since the bill was passed in April 2003.  

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