To provide a safer shopping option for those at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, the commissary has teamed up with the chaplain’s office here to create a “concierge program” through which trained volunteers will do the buying and drop-off for vulnerable individuals.
“The program also will be available (to people who are) quarantined or isolated because they have been exposed to the virus,” elaborated Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jonathan Fowler, Fort Lee Garrison chaplain.
He further noted how the project serves as an example to the Fort Lee community. “We want to encourage mutual support during this time … helping each other work through the situation we are in until we get back to normal,” he said. “(Additionally, it creates) a community mindset so that if an event like this happens again, we already have mechanisms in place to provide support as best as we can.”
It took several weeks to piece the program together. The challenges included finding suitable volunteers and establishing safety ground rules as well as procedural guidelines for delivery and grocery payment that required legal reviews.
With a successful trial run of the program conducted last week, the team is ready to roll, and the following steps are how the process will work:
- Authorized commissary patrons needing service will call the garrison headquarters at 804-734-7188 or 734-7244 to be screened for eligibility. If they qualify, the request for service will be sent to the Religious Support Office and a volunteer shopper will be assigned to that individual.
- The volunteer will contact the patron to take their order prior to arriving at the commissary. He or she will check into the main commissary office, where they will be issued a mask and gloves. From there, they can pick up a cart and begin shopping.
- With all available items selected, the volunteer proceeds to checkout where a commissary sales clerk will contact the patron for credit card information to pay for the order.
- If the patron is quarantined on post, the volunteer will deliver the items, placing them near the living quarters’ entrance and notifying the recipient by phone. Patrons who are able to drive to the commissary will use the pickup spot at the back of the store – turn left on 2nd Street, just past the Exchange and continue to the back parking lot where there is signage to identify the area. The volunteer will load the groceries into the back of the vehicle in a no-contact delivery method. Delivery is not available to off-post locations.
Initially, the commissary will only accept credit cards as payment. No debit card or cash will be accepted under this program. There is a limit of 30 items per order. Ration limits established by Defense Commissary Agency will apply to these shopping orders, unless an exception to policy has been granted. A list of rationed items is available at www.commissaries.com/shopping/store-locations/fort-lee.
At the time of this publication, the hours of service will be Tuesday to Friday from noon - 4 p.m. For more information, call the garrison headquarters phone number listed earlier.
The Fort Lee Commissary has taken other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Protective masks are required and patrons are asked to use the handwashing station before entering the store. Shoppers must present their DOD identification card to access the facility.