Commissary brand water makes big splash at Ford event
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Thousands of bottles of Freedom’s Choice water provided much-needed relief for people attending the USS Gerald R. Ford commissioning ceremony, July 22, at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
For the thousands gathered on the pier and in the ship’s hangar bays to witness the occasion, two things were unmistakable – the sheer size of the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier and the heat of the summer day as temperatures rose above 90 degrees.
To respond to the heat, the Navy had set up fans at locations around the pier and on the ship, and the Defense Commissary Agency’s industry partner SpartanNash had donated 32,000 bottles of Freedom’s Choice water, one of the growing number of store brand products now arriving at commissaries worldwide.
For SpartanNash the event was personal with its corporate headquarters being in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the late President, Gerald R. Ford grew up, and the company’s MDV military division headquartered in Norfolk, said Kathy Mahoney, MDV president and SpartanNash chief legal officer.
“As a company, it is part of our corporate responsibility to give back to the communities we serve,” Mahoney said. “When we learned of the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford we stepped up to sponsor events in Norfolk and Grand Rapids and get our family of nearly 16,000 associates involved.
“We approached DeCA about our desire to donate Freedom’s Choice water for the Norfolk commissioning, and they were very excited and supportive of our donation,” she added. “Having had the honor of attending, I can say firsthand the crew, family members and guests greatly appreciated the cold water on this monumental day.”
Chris Burns, DeCA’s executive director for business transformation, agreed with Mahoney’s sentiments: “It was an honor to play a small role in something so historic – the commissioning of an American supercarrier – by offering guests and those we serve in the military some welcome relief from the heat with our own brand of water.”
Navy Ensign Karyn Lee, one of the thousands of service members and civilians at the event, said the donated commissary brand water was right on time. “I think it’s great the commissary is doing this,” she said. “The commissary is great in general because it’s cheap.”
For Lt. j.g. Sean Carrigan, the water offers an easy choice. “It tastes good, and if it’s cheaper than the other brands, I’ll most likely be buying Freedom’s Choice.” Kaitlin Mikatarian, who accompanied Carrigan, was enthusiastic as well. “I think it’s great! I love the commissary. I do all my shopping there.”
Store brand products, also known as private label, are offered by retailers under their own, in-house brand or under a brand developed by their suppliers. Retailers are able to do this by working directly with suppliers.
DeCA’s private label offerings include three brands: Freedom’s Choice for food items; HomeBase for nonfood items such as paper products and other household goods; and TopCare products such as first aid supplies, vitamins, over-the-counter medications and beauty care. TopCare is a store brand available at many retailers and supplied to the commissaries by Topco Associates through an agreement with SpartanNash.
DeCA partnered with SpartanNash to develop the agency’s commissary brands. SpartanNash, through its military division MDV, is the leading distributor of grocery products to U.S. military commissaries worldwide. Commissary brand products will be equal or lower in price to commercial grocery store brands.
Over the next three to four years patrons will see the gradual rollout of Freedom’s Choice, HomeBase and TopCare products in their commissaries as DeCA plans to increase the commissary brand inventory to about 4,000 items.
For more information on DeCA’s commissary brand program, visit our FAQ page.
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. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to commercial prices when shopping regularly at a commissary. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. 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.