ArticleCS - Article View

News | Aug. 22, 2007

Gather ‘round the dinner table, DeCA officials say

By Caroline Williams Defense Commissary Agency

Commissary officials urge military families to enjoy a meal together often, but especially on Monday, Sept. 24, to support Family Day, a national movement that encourages parental involvement in the lives of America's children as a way of decreasing the odds of substance abuse.

"Sharing a meal with someone is an age-old way of communicating cultural values and norms," said Patrick Nixon, director and chief executive officer of the Defense Commissary Agency. "Eating together feeds the soul as well as the stomach. It's the perfect opportunity for parents to transmit their beliefs and expectations about life choices to their children, and commissaries certainly support military moms and dads as they rise to the daily challenge of bringing up healthy, well-adjusted young adults."

The Family Day initiative was founded by CASA, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA chairman and president, "Parents are the most potent and underused tool in preventing substance abuse." The center's 2006 report found that compared to kids who have fewer than three family dinners per week, children and teens who have frequent family dinners together are at 70 percent lower risk for substance abuse, are one third less likely to try alcohol, half as likely to try cigarettes or marijuana and half as likely to get drunk monthly.

DeCA plans to encourage commissary customers to participate in Family Day with a gift certificate sweepstakes, underwritten by Family Day national sponsor The Coca-Cola Company.

"During the month of September at commissaries around the world, customers can enter to win a commissary gift certificate to help defray the cost of groceries for family meals," said Phil Richardson, director of corporate customer development for Coca-Cola. "Each store will have a ballot box and entry forms near the Coke display."

DeCA and Coca-Cola are also collaborating on the production of special Family Day recipe cards to inspire moms and dads to make dinner from scratch, a healthier option than restaurant take-out and fast-food, drive-through meals.

"Commissaries place special emphasis on health and wellness," explained DeCA dietitian, Maj. Karen Fauber, "and Family Day presents a unique opportunity to extend that message. Eat a homemade dinner with the family to gain a lasting rapport with your children and enjoy the physical and mental benefits you're sure to get from eating a healthier meal made from scratch."

To create Family Day excitement among commissary customers last year, Coca-Cola sponsored a worldwide sweepstakes for an all-expenses-paid, three-day trip to New York, featuring a special dinner prepared by Sandra Lee, host of the popular Food Network show "Semi-Homemade Cooking."

Donna Shelton of Yorktown, Va., wife of Air Force retiree Scott Shelton, won the Family Day dinner sweepstakes and recently flew with her husband, daughter, Brittany, and her daughter's friend, Annalisa, to New York to meet Sandra Lee and enjoy one of her specially prepared meals.

"We had a great time," Shelton said. "Sandra Lee is vivacious and personable. She told us some great stories about her rise to success and we were very impressed by her business sense.

"We were so well-taken-care-of ... from the flight to New York, to hotel accommodations and a limo ride to and from the dinner with Sandra Lee, it was completely a class act. It was all about good food, good fun and good company!"

For more information on Family Day, visit the official Web site .

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. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices - savings worth about $3,000 annually for a family of four. 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.