The commissary stocks your favorite foods. From fresh deli meats to moist birthday cakes, the commissary carries nearly everything a military family needs to bring the flavors of home to their homes.
These stores are so much more than just the items on their shelves. It’s the people we meet and personal connections we make that keep us going back time and again. We asked our readers to share their favorite feel-good commissary stories with us. Here’s what they said.
Our Favorite Feel-Good Commissary Stories
When the power went out at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey, this July, all military personnel and their families were left in the dark. The commissary still had full power, thanks to an independent generator. In the middle of the political turmoil, families were unable to charge their cell phones or use the internet to connect with loved ones back home.
So the commissary set out chairs, power cords and shared the store’s Wi-Fi with the community. Service members and families could swing in for pantry staples and get in touch with their families stateside. Plus, the commissary was the only open building with air conditioning!
Paying It Forward
Our budgets are often tight, even with a consistent paycheck coming in. It can make buying essentials, like milk or diapers, challenging for many military families.
Near Fort Bliss in Texas, the local Fox affiliate stopped into the base commissary to surprise military families by picking up their tabs. At the register, they stopped several customers and offered to pay for everything in their shopping carts. Just as a way of saying “Thank you for your service.”
One young mother explained a little bit more about her tight budget. The Fox team sent her back into the commissary to load her cart with diapers and milk for the kids. Then they paid for the whole thing!
It’s the little things that make commissary trips or any shopping trip with kids easier.
Lizann, a military spouse, told me about a special connection between their son and one grocery bagger. On every grocery trip, this military spouse makes sure to be in this bagger’s line. This bagger remembers their little boy and lets him help her bag their groceries. She always greets him by name and often gives him a sticker.
It’s a great reward for helping his parents!
A military spouse on a specific diet in a new place can be a struggle. When one military spouse needed to skip the rice on her sushi, the kind people at the sushi counter were more than ready to help her.
They created special sashimi plates for her, with just fish and no rice. They also shared the nutritional labels for all of their products with her.
And every time she goes in, the sushi staff chats with her about her day!
Speaking of special diets, it can be costly to adhere to an exclusionary meal plan. One spouse was paying very high prices for non-dairy items out in town. And she was having to make multiple trips to different stores to track down specific products, Meg told me.
While grabbing some items in the dairy section one day, she bumped into the section manager. She shared her frustration about the lack of non-dairy yogurt with him.
The manager checked with the suppliers to see if the product was available for stocking. It was!
Less than 2 weeks later, her specially requested non-dairy item was on the shelves! Plus, the department started adding even more dairy-free products.
Touch of Home
On a 6-month tour in Italy, having a commissary with American food items helped one veteran feel more connected to home.
On weekends, he and his friends would go to the commissary and load up on their favorites. Then they would cook and eat together. It helped these troops to feel more connected to home, especially when stationed overseas.
For families with small children, it is also important to have the same foods no matter where they live. Being able to open the pantry and make macaroni and cheese while living in Japan is comforting.
The commissary also makes it easier to take new favorites with you. The diversity and depth of their international foods aisle makes it simpler to create authentic Spanish, Japanese or German meals while living in Kansas.
Murphy’s Law struck one military spouse less than 24 hours after her husband left for his deployment.
While buying essentials at the commissary, she discovered that her military dependent ID card was missing. She searched high and low: in the car, in her purse and all around the store. Even retracing her steps in the parking lot. Nothing.
And her groceries were still sitting in the cart. Her face was burning with embarrassment!
Luckily, the commissary manager saw her predicament.
“I know you. You shop here all the time. You’re good!”
With groceries purchased, she finally found the missing ID in the parking lot of her children’s school! And never forgot this act of kindness.