FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – With COVID-19 imposing new restrictions on food distribution nationwide, the Defense Commissary Agency is working hard to keep the installation community informed and safely meet consumer demands.“Employees of the Defense Commissary Agency are committed to preserving the [commissary shopping] benefit and delivering a 21st century. world-class service to our valued patrons,” said Mary Knoll, Commissary Officer here.The pandemic has presented many challenges for DeCA.“We have personnel cleaning surfaces hourly to include at register lanes where patrons are touching pin pads,” Knoll said. “Grocery carts and hand held shopping baskets are cleaned [after each use].”In the last few months, the effects of the pandemic on the food and beverage industry's ability to meet consumer demand has impacted all retailers, Knoll said.“The meat industry was forced at one point to close processing plants due to large numbers of COVID-19 cases, greatly affecting the meat supply,” she said. “Some manufacturers were able to continue production but were forced to reduce product offerings and temporarily stop production on certain items.”Most restrictions were put in place by the Defense Commissary Agency in response to the panic-buying and hoarding seen in early March 2020 due to the pandemic.Many manufacturers are forced either to close facilities, or greatly reduce production due to staffing shortages or shortages of raw materials.“When shortages were prevalent, we were able to procure some products not normally sold by the commissary, just to meet patron demand for certain items like paper products, hand sanitizers and even some masks,” Knoll said.Local businesses in the Sierra Vista community and on post are starting to see some recovery, but the process will likely take some time to return to normal.“We ask for the continued support of our valued patrons to only purchase those items that they truly need to support their families, thus [giving] us the best opportunity to provide the benefit to all customers of your Fort Huachuca Commissary,” Knoll said.U.S. Army Garrison also provides a Courtesy Patrol to assist commissary personnel in enforcing Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and General Order restrictions while providing a safe environment for patrons.“I think it is safer to shop on post,” said Spc. Cody Higgins, Training and Operations, Network Enterprise Technology Command.Higgins has been stationed here and a consumer of the commissary since November 2019. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, his extra duty is working for the Courtesy Patrol at the commissary.“I would say 99 percent of the people who shop here understand why we are conscientious about the safety orders put in place,” Higgins said.Higgins said commissary shoppers seem to approve of the Courtesy Patrol.# # #Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 964 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.We are the Army’s Home. Learn more at https://home.army.mil/huachuca/