The 412th Test Wing community has launched a commissary shopping service at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to support those who are high risk, quarantined, isolated and unable to shop for themselves or Team Edwards deployed families impacted due to COVID-19, April 20, 2020.
The service is limited to the local area as defined in the Edwards AFB COVID-19 Local Area Definition & Public Health Guidance memorandum, and orders can be made for delivery or “curbside” pick-up, according to Master Sgt. Scott A. Bennett, additional duty first sergeant, Air Force Operational Test & Evaluation Center, Detachment 5.
“I think a simple service like this is important because it can mitigate worry, stress, and/or uncertainty during times when everything is complicated,” said Bennett. “It shows people that they are not alone in their particular circumstance and it fosters a climate of compassion in our community as people help people.”
The program is an initiative of the Defense Commissary Agency and is referred to as the Agent Shopping Service, according to a DeCA memorandum.
Although DeCA provides the authority for the program, the installation bares the responsibility for recruiting volunteers that would shop for patrons, completing the shopping transaction, and then arranging for the delivery of purchases by volunteers or the pickup of purchases by patrons.
At Edwards AFB, the Top 3 organization has taken lead on coordination efforts between units across the base.
“Edwards Top 3, Chiefs Group and First Sergeants are all aware of this program,” said Bennett. “When they get notified of a member in their unit being placed in quarantine, isolation or who has been identified as high risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will share our contact information with them. We’ve even expanded the service to include Team Edwards deployed families impacted by COVID-19.”
Members in need would reach out to their unit’s leadership to request the service from the commissary and a volunteer would then do the shopping and delivery of the groceries.
This program will be available while Edwards AFB is in Health Protection Condition C or D, but may be terminated at HPCON A or B due to Department of Treasury requirements associated with DeCA’s telephonic credit card transaction authorities.
“From my perspective, this program is very much needed,” said Master Sgt. Christina M. Rucoba, first sergeant, 412th Maintenance Logistics Test Squadron and 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, “I have had members across my units who were notified that they have to quarantine themselves, and the first question they ask me is ‘how do I get groceries for myself and my family’. I now can respond with this program and it goes along way with putting their minds at ease.”
The commissary shopping service program managers have worked with the Edwards Commissary to ensure a smooth process for the volunteers at the commissary and have established guidelines to streamline the process for everyone involved.
“The backbone of this program is our volunteers,” said Rucoba. “These are Team Edward members who are looking for ways to give back to our community during these unprecedented times. We have had over a dozen members step up and volunteer to be available anytime to shop and deliver groceries to members in need. This is awesome to see and to be a part of.”
To request the Agent Shopping Service, contact your organization’s leadership through the chain of command.