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DoD DeCA 's Profile

Department of Defense, Defense Commissary Agency



United States

About Me:

Karen Hawkins, DOD BloggerLTC Hawkins is a registered and licensed dietitian with more than 18 years of military service: ten as an Army Reserve dietitian and eight on active duty, including experience as a certified diabetes educator in Army medical facilities and public health clinics. LTC Hawkins developed, coordinated and evaluated health and nutrition programs in Virginia, and served as the state's “5 A Day for Better Health” program coordinator.

LTC Hawkins earned 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 interned at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Continuing her studies, LTC Hawkins is currently enrolled in an online doctoral program in health education through A.T. Still University, Kirksville, Mo.

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Recent Posts by DoD DeCA

Boomers Step Up to the Challenge

by DoD DeCA June 30, 2010

DeCA HQ Walk

We created a successful physical activity promotion during National Physical Fitness and Sports Month in May 2009. Employees of the Defense Commissary Agency were on the move from May through July 2009 with more than 4,800 people being physically active in the President's Challenge.

With as many as 60 percent of DeCA employees being baby boomers, they were encouraged to commit to being physically active for at least five days each week, over a period of several months. Implementing the President's Challenge provided the opportunity to make physical activity a real part of peoples everyday lives along with a way to track participation across the world.

Here are some tips we used to help us implement the President’s Challenge:

  1. In DeCA, we found that approaching our director, who has a degree in physical education and is a strong physical fitness advocate, created a great opportunity for the support we needed. It really helped getting buy-in from the top down.
  2. Create a competition between sections or regions in your organization. Most people enjoy being part of a team and competing to achieve a goal. In DeCA, each region assigned team captains to garner participation and track data at Employees love talking about their activities and encouraging each other to keep going.
  3. Throughout the challenge and at the end, share examples of events and activities that both teams and individuals can do to make it enjoyable and real for people. Some things we did included walk-run events and walking groups at lunchtime and breaks with many of DeCA's employees participating in fitness classes at military installation recreation facilities.
  4. Share the success of accomplishment through incentives and media promotion. Our people shared how much they enjoyed the activity along with having more motivation to continue being active beyond the challenge. This was such a successful program for our employees that DeCA will participate in the Challenge again this year.

First Family Fun Fitness Festival in the Military Community

by DoD DeCA April 21, 2010

Case Lot Sale

With May being National Physical Fitness Month the military community is holding its first Family Fun Fitness Festival. The Defense Commissary Agency has partnered with the exchanges and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation to offer customers savings, physical activity events, and health and wellness information. More than 180 installations worldwide have signed on to participate in commissary case lot sales, exchange sidewalk sales, morale, welfare, and recreation fitness events, healthy food demos, and  prize giveaways. Many of the participating installations are tipping the scales of creativity in combining fitness, fun and family. At U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg, Germany, they are featuring events such as a fun run with pets, a relay race toting cases, a circuit course where trainers work with families in eight exercises, and a family recipe exchange. Misawa Air Base, Japan, is scheduling a nutritional scavenger hunt along with a yoga demo, massages, a 100-yard dash and a weight-lifting competition. At Naval Support Activity Memphis, Tenn., members of USA Karate will be giving demonstrations in karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and cage fitness, offering free classes to three different age groups

There is much interest and commitment from all areas of the military community, including industry partners, in promoting physical activity and good nutrition for military families. We are on the move in the military community!

How are you creating partnerships to help promote physical activity in your communities?

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Hopscotch in the Defense Commissary Agency

by DoD DeCA December 7, 2009

Child on hopscotch at the grocery storeWalk through a military commissary and you are likely to see children happily playing hopscotch in the fruit and vegetable section. To help promote physical activity as part of the “Eat Healthy and Be Active Your Way” program in commissaries, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has installed a permanent hopscotch game display on the floor in the produce section of most commissaries. This was implemented to help demonstrate the link between physical activity and making healthy choices when shopping for food.

The hopscotch game is making an impact on children such as John Murray Jr. John’s mom says, “Whenever we go to the commissary he is so excited and always asks, ‘Can I hopscotch in the apples?’ The game allows John to play and I use it to let him pick out the fruit he wants to take home.”

 Recently John’s mom shared a shopping adventure where he was already out of the buggy skipping towards produce saying, "Mama I get to hopscotch, yeah for me." He rounded the corner and she followed him. He had stopped and was looking back at her with big tears in his eyes and said, "Mama I can't get to hopscotch no more," as there was a pallet of watermelons covering the hopscotch game. John’s mom tried to reassure him that maybe next time he could play hopscotch. However he said, "No Mama I always get to hopscotch real good two times and pick out my fruit from the hopscotch."


Around that time Mr. Raymond Lane, Deputy Store Director came by, and seeing the big tears in John’s eyes he asked what was wrong. John pointed to the pallet of watermelons covering the display and replied, "I can't hopscotch in the apples today." Mr. Lane quickly had the pallet of watermelons moved and John was free to hopscotch.


Fast friends were made that day between Mr. Lane and John Jr. Mr. Lane gave him his card and told him, "Now you are my hopscotch checker; if the game is ever covered, you come and let me know and I will fix it." Now when Mrs. Murray and John Jr. visit the commissary they make sure to let Mr. Lane know that "the hopscotch in the apples is okay." 


During 2009 DeCA and HHS signed a proclamation recognizing that eating healthy and being active are two things Americans can do to improve their health and are keys to a healthy lifestyle. In support of the proclamation DeCA is coordinating in-store displays and promotions in commissaries.  The hopscotch game display is an environmental intervention designed to encourage children and families to be active along with making healthy choices while shopping in the commissary. DeCA is currently looking at the use of displays to determine how they are impacting choices in commissaries while the hop scotch game display is being enjoyed by children of all ages in commissaries.


What kind of environmental interventions have worked for your organization?


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Environmental Interventions

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This page last updated on: 11/04/2009

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