Exchange bakeries nourish troops’ spirits overseas

DALLAS — For Cpl. Deamborene Outlaw, a simple slice of Wonder Bread goes a long way toward making South Korea feel more like home.

“It’s comforting to me because it’s like a little piece of home,” Outlaw said, who serves as a chaplain’s assistant at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys in South Korea. “I’ve lived in several different places in the States, and everywhere I’ve been in the States has had Wonder bread or baked goods. It’s like a comfort food.”

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service takes care of Outlaw and other troops serving overseas through its four bakeries — three in the Pacific and one in Germany  fresh-baked goods made with American flour, so the bread, buns, rolls, tortillas, cakes, doughnuts and other treats taste just like they do back home.

Baked goods from name brands, including Wonder, Home Pride, Country Hearth, Milton’s and more are shipped to Exchange Express stores and restaurants across Europe, Southwest Asia and the Pacific, nourishing Soldiers, Airmen and military families with familiar, fresh-baked products and a taste of home. Commissaries, military dining halls, ships in port, quality-of-life restaurants and child care programs and Department of Defense Education Activity schools also receive the Exchange-made products.

“Because all goods are baked fresh, the quality is so much better than if we were to ship frozen products from the States,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor. “From Burger King buns for Whoppers to whole-wheat bread for kids’ school meals, the Exchange’s bakeries improve the quality of lives for those who are so far from America by giving them a simple taste of home.”

The largest of the Exchange bakeries is in Gruenstadt, Germany, and serves 24 countries, including warzone locations. The 92,000-square-foot facility even produces Krispy Kreme doughnuts using proprietary equipment and ingredients — so the doughnuts rolling off the line are just like the ones found at Krispy Kreme shops back in the United States. In 2016, the plant produced 7 million Krispy Kreme doughnuts for troops and families across Europe.

The Exchange also operates bakeries at Camp Market, Korea; Camp Kinser, Okinawa; and at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Together, they produce 2 million loaves of bread, 10.5 million buns and more than 12,500 decorated cakes a year.

Courtesy of AAFES

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