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Commissaries add dietitian to outreach program

  • Published
  • By Bonnie Powell
  • Defense Commissary Agency
Customers have always been able to find healthy food at healthy savings in their commissary. They can also find healthy advice, now that the Defense Commissary Agency has a registered dietitian on staff.

"We made a commitment to be the nutritional leader for the military," said Patrick Nixon, DeCA director and chief executive officer. "We're excited to have Maj. Karen Fauber as the first DeCA dietitian, and we expect this to be a great opportunity for customers to obtain nutrition education through their commissary system."

Having a dietitian on staff is also a growing trend in the commercial grocery industry and more and more consumers indicate they look to grocery stores for nutrition education and guidance. After all, that's where they make most of their food purchase decisions.
DeCA and TRICARE have been partnering for two years on TRICARE's Healthy Choices for Life program, which focuses on the problems of alcohol abuse, tobacco use and obesity in military families. "Since we are the grocery store of choice for millions of military families, we developed the 'It's Your Choice, Make it Healthy' program to tie into the weight management segment of Healthy Choices," said Mr. Nixon.

It's Your Choice does not aim to tell customers what is good or bad, but it does encourage them to think more about their choices.

"Weight management is a topic of primary importance for DoD patient education," said TRICARE chief medical officer Dr. David Tornberg. "DeCA is making a significant contribution to our program by emphasizing healthier eating, and has taken the effort to a new level by adding a registered dietitian to their team."

Mr. Nixon added: "Having a registered dietitian increases our ability to educate customers on how to make healthier meal choices - reading product labels at the commissary, enjoying more fresh fruit and vegetables and leaner meats, and preparing meals at home instead of hitting the fast food drive through or spending hard-earned money on restaurants."

The DeCA dietitian is already on the job, having filmed a Pentagon Channel segment offering advice on how to shop for foods that will help consumers stick to their New Year's resolutions to lose weight.

"I really appreciate the leadership role commissaries are taking in advocating healthy food choices for military families," said Ms. Fauber, "and I am eager to be a part of DeCA's efforts in promoting 'It's Your Choice, Make It Healthy,' and providing nutrition education as part of the commissary benefit."

Ms. Fauber has 16 years of service with 10 years as an Army Reserve dietitian and six years active duty, including experience as a certified diabetes educator in Army medical facilities and public health clinics. She has also developed, coordinated and evaluated health and nutrition programs in Virginia and was the Virginia "5 A Day for Better Health" program coordinator.

Ms. Fauber has a bachelor's degree in dietetics from Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Ga., and a master's degree in education and human development from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. She completed her dietetic internship at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Some of the initiatives planned for the DeCA dietitian include an "Ask the Dietitian" feature on the DeCA Web site at and increased visibility for the recently revamped "5 A Day for Better Health" program, which focuses on fruits and vegetables. Ms. Fauber will also work closely with DeCA home economist and Europe outreach specialist Kay Blakley, who is well-known for her "Kay's Kitchen" newspaper columns and recipes, and TV spots on American Forces Network in Europe.