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SERVICES

DeCA - DEFENSE COMMISSARY AGENCY - Europe

The team of professionals at the Defense Commissary Agency works hard to make your commissary shopping worth the trip -- the place where customers love to shop and where employees love to work. The DeCA team is a dedicated group of people committed to providing the armed services community a valuable benefit to supplement military income as an integral part of members' overall military pay and benefits package.

A quality assortment of groceries and household supplies is offered to authorized commissary shoppers at greater savings today than at any other time in DeCA's history. DeCA Europe, responsible for 35 commissaries in 8 countries, is headquartered on Kapaun Air Station in Kaiserslautern.

Commissary products are sold at cost, with only a five percent surcharge added for commissary maintenance and construction. In general, using the commissary over the local supermarket can save customers more than 30 percent on their grocery bill.

Standard departments at the commissaries are groceries, dairy products, frozen food, meat, produce, health and beauty items, household and tobacco products. The fresh meats include vacuum-packed USDA Choice American beef, natural Angus beef and high-quality European pork and chicken.

In addition to these standard items, larger commissaries have bakeries and delis, which, among other things, offer rotisserie chicken and fresh made-to-order sandwiches. Larger stores may also offer fresh pizzas, a hot foods department, salad bar and plants. Many of the bakeries have been converted to the popular self-serve concept allowing customers to select, bag and price their own pastries and breads. All sorts of special orders are possible. In the meat department, special cuts or large quantities may be ordered by speaking to a meat counter employee. For your party you can get trays featuring deli meat, cheese, fruit or vegetables. Special occasion cakes can be ordered and fruit or gift baskets created for a spectacular gift.

All commissaries now offer a $25 and $50 Gift Cards which can be purchased at in a store or online at the Commissary's website. This is the perfect gift for that teacher, babysitter or new mother. The five percent surcharge is applied only when the bearer of the voucher presents it in payment for purchases.

Though prices are low to start with, the commissary agency strives to improve even on these values. Coupons are accepted by all European commissaries, including internet coupons, up to six months after their stateside expiration date.

Additionally, check out the extra savings to be had on various items from industry partners. Go to the website at www.commissaries.com for details and downloadable, printable coupons.

DeCA has identified name brand products that provide consistent value, based on an average lower price than the equivalent store, private label item.

Look for the orange "VALUE" tags on about 300 products in 33 categories. These include frozen vegetables, pizza and entrees, pet foods, health and beauty care, cereals, cleaning supplies, soft drinks, and coffee, just to name a few.

Disabled customers are permitted into the commissaries a half hour before opening time, and electric shopping carts with baskets may be available. One thing to remember when shopping: baggers are not commissary employees and they work for tips only. Speaking of bags, DeCA is more earth friendly than ever, offering an assortment of reusable bags at a low price and encouraging customers to move away from the disposable plastic bags in favor of reusables in the fabric of their choice.

A team of professional merchandisers at DeCA Europe headquarters works extremely hard to satisfy "most of the people, most of the time" but don't expect to see an abundance of U.S. regional specialties like your favorite mom and pop BBQ sauce from Little Town, USA. DeCA just doesn't have the shelf space to stock such items and small companies don't have the ability to ship overseas. DeCA's stock assortment is based on the top selling nationwide name brand products, though. So if your tastes and shopping habits are fairly typical, you are likely to find most of your stateside favorites readily available at your European commissaries.

As a general rule active duty U.S. military, DoD civilians and their dependents may shop at the commissaries if they are stationed in Europe. Such personnel visiting from the U.S. generally may not shop there. Retirees living long-term in Germany and Italy may also shop in the commissaries with the proper paperwork, but they may not buy tobacco and other rationed items and they must pay duty on all they buy.

Check out www.commissaries.com and click on locations to find European store pages. Under consumer information you will find a monthly newsletter and new product listing, as well as other special information pertinent to stores in Europe.

Defense Commissary Agency is live on Facebook and YourCommissary can be found on Twitter.

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