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Commissary returns to Bethel and adds Nome delivery

Veterans, National Guard members, and their families get more access to military commissary supply lines this fall in two hub communities in rural Alaska. From Bethel, KYUK’s Francisco Martinezcuello reports that Nome has been added as a place where commissary supplies can be ordered. The ordering window deadline is Oct. 31 for Bethel and Nov. 15 for Nome.

Ernest Woody is the assistant store director at the Defense Commissary Agency located in Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

KYUK: Good morning, where do you work?

Woody: Good day everybody. I work for the Anchorage Area Commissary, also known as the JBER commissary: Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson.

KYUK: And why did you stop by KYUK studios today?

Woody: I came by the studio today to announce opportune cargo. The Anchorage Commissary is partnering with the Alaska National Guard to participate in a training mission designed to provide supplies to locations that are inaccessible by road. This year, the cities of Bethel and Nome, where travel by air is how people and supplies arrive, will have the opportunity to order groceries from the commissary and have them dropped off. Having a National Guard base and many commissary-eligible customers in these two locations provides the perfect opportunity for the Guard to get in their training, and commissary customers to save on their groceries.

KYUK: And so what are the drop off dates?

Woody: The drop off dates are as follows. Bethel: Nov. 15. The ordering window will be from Oct. 16 to [Oct.] 31. And Nome will be Nov. 28, with the ordering window Nov. 1 through [Nov.] 15.

KYUK: And who's eligible for these orders? In other words, who are the authorized personnel?

Woody: The authorized shoppers are service members and their dependents, military retirees, disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and their Veteran’s Administration certified caregivers, can place their orders through the Anchorage commissary website. When you’re done shopping, click the dropoff location at checkout. Items for order are limited to chill, frozen, and no hazardous materials such as aerosol cans. And cleaning supplies can be ordered for drop off, such as detergents and fabric softeners.

KYUK:  So when did this program start?

Woody: This started back in October 2021, [it] was the first dropoff service in Bethel. The expansion is to happen to Nome, which will help bring the commissary benefit to more remote communities. Both DECA and the Alaska National Guard hope to keep expanding the service to more locations in the future.

KYUK: Do you have anything else you want to say?

Woody: For all your service members, thank you for all you do for our nation and for the state of Alaska. And take advantage of your commissary benefits.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.