NOTE: To see photos and video footage of the Healthy Base Initiative shopping tours at Fort Bragg South Commissary, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/commissary/sets/72157638056717664. Nearly 100 people attended healthy shopping tours at the Fort Bragg South Commissary, N.C., Nov. 14 as part of a weeklong series of events at the Army post related to the Healthy Base Initiative campaign.
HBI is a year-long demonstration project under the Department of Defense's Operation Live Well program to improve the health and wellness of service members, family members and DOD civilians and family members. Fort Bragg is one of the 14 pilot sites participating in HBI.
The effort is DOD's campaign to attack a growing problem in the military community, said HBI Director Curt Cornelssen, who visited Fort Bragg to view the wellness events. "In the DOD we have a challenge. We are spending over $3 billion on tobacco-related and obesity-related illnesses, and that number is going up a bit over time.
"We also have a readiness issue because over 10 percent of our force is obese; 40 percent is smoking," he added. "So we really have to take this on, not just for DOD, but for society as a whole."
Events at Bragg, held Nov. 12-15, kicked off a campaign reaching multiple audiences in different venues. Besides the commissary shopping tours there were stress management classes, a spouse wellness conference, tobacco cessation clinics, a community resiliency fair, healthy cooking classes, healthy menu makeovers at Fort Bragg Schools and dining facilities, and fitness activities such as a 5-kilometer walk/run.
The healthy commissary shopping tours at Bragg South, referred to as "Cooking Matters - In The Store," were part of HBI's partnership with Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Tour leaders were comprised of Share Our Strength staff and the local Inter-Faith Food Shuttle group, said Christine Berman, manager of early childhood programs for Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters department.
"We want families to learn food skills that are really essential to getting healthy meals on the table, and it all starts with what goes into the shopping cart," said Berman, who helped direct the tours at Bragg South. "Teaching families how to identify the best produce, what's a whole grain, how to read a nutrition label so they can choose items lower in sugar, lower in salt and saturated fat - these are the kinds of skills we want them to go home with."
Cornelssen thanked Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, and his wife, Beth, for supporting the initiative. "This is our largest installation for the Healthy Base Initiative, so their leaning forward on promoting health and wellness makes a huge the difference."
During the year-long demonstration, DOD will evaluate pilot sites for environments that support healthy lifestyles. Eventually, the best practices of the sites will be shared throughout the military.
Besides Fort Bragg, other pilot sites participating in the Healthy Base Initiative assessment are: Fort Sill, Okla.; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn.; Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; Yokota Air Base, Japan; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center/Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass.; March Air Reserve Base, Calif.; Camp Dodge, Iowa; the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir, Va., and Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Va., and Fort Meade, Md.
With commissaries on nine of the pilot sites, the Defense Commissary Agency is supporting HBI by serving as an area where installation officials can demonstrate proper eating behavior through cooking tours and other events designed to achieve a healthy lifestyle for commissary shoppers. The agency is also working with its industry partners to continue and expand special activities and promotions such as the summertime farmer's market events at the Fort Belvoir and Quantico commissaries in Virginia and Fort Sill Commissary, Okla.
"Today's healthy shopping tours were the culmination of three months' worth of planning," said John Moore, store director at Fort Bragg South. "We've been working with the folks at [Office of the Secretary of Defense] and HBI and meeting with General Anderson. We're glad we are in a position to support this program."
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save an average of 30 percent or more on their purchases compared to commercial prices - savings amounting to thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.
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