ALA Covid Update April 21, 2020

Commissary worker PPE, unified resale pandemic fight, consumer insights, business aid package update, manufacturer allocations falling short, critical infrastructure designation for grocery and transportation, CDC guidance on infected workers

By Steve Rossetti, ALA Director of Government Affairs

Protective Gear in Commissaries

ALA is working with DeCA to provide consistency among the five classes of workers in commissaries and make masks available to all workers.  Consistency across work forces is imperative in order to ensure that all workers and patrons are protected.  We are working on an announcement with DeCA.

ALA Publishing Listing of Commissary Restrictions

ALA is posting daily updates to restrictions being imposed at commissaries worldwide in the News section of our site.

Fighting the Pandemic—A United Resale Front

The resale agencies including DeCA, AAFES, NEX, MCX, and CGES have issued a joint statement on being taken to ensure that patrons and workers are protected.

IRI Consumer Insights

IRI, a leading consumer analytics company and ALA member, has released some consumer insights associated with the pandemic.  Thanks to Christine Roussey with IRI for providing this information.

Paycheck Protection Act Update

Another pandemic stimulus bill is moving through the Congress.  We have a summary  of the state of play, as well as a report by the SBA on PPP implementation.

Small Business Pandemic Best Practices Package

The ALA is working with the Defense Industrial Base Task Force to exchange information regarding challenges and solutions to issues raised by the pandemic.  The Department of Defense has issued a Small Business Best Practices PackageThe package includes: a best practices outline, template for Safe passage, Critical Workforce Infrastructure Guidance, identification of essential workers guidance and Defense contracting and pricing considerations.

DoD Billing Rate Guidance

Section 3610 of the CARES Act provides for reimbursement of certain personnel expenses associated with the pandemic.  The Office of the Secretary of Defense has released their guidance and list of frequently asked questions.

Unique Military Requirements Demand Manufacturer Adequate Allocations of Product

ALA and DeCA are encouraging manufacturers to increase their allocations to the distribution centers.  The military supply chain’s long-lead times to remote and overseas areas, often 50 to 60 days, make adequate manufacturer allocations essential.  Commercial distributors are taking extraordinary efforts to get product to stores, but inadequate manufacturer allocations are impeding progress.

Coastal Pacific Food Distributor issued a letter to its industry partners on efforts being taken to maintain and increase product deliveries.  MDV SpartanNash released a business status update to its industry partners and customers as well.

A representative list of categories most impacted by vendor cuts is posted here.  Categories include:

  • Drinking water
  • Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
  • Diapers
  • Cough & Cold product along with all medicines
  • Hand Sanitizers, wipes and sprays
  • Bleach and Cleaning Supplies
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Beans
  • Canned Soup
  • Frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Flour
  • Pasta and Pasta Sauce
  • Gatorades/Juices/Drinks
  • Rice
  • Vitamins
  • Dish, hand soap and laundry detergent

The Defense Commissary Agency issued an urgent communication to manufacturers here from Chris Burns, Executive Director, Sales Marketing and Logistics.  In his communication, Burns implores manufacturers to consider the unique nature of the military and take extraordinary steps to ensure allocations are adequate to take care of this channel.

The Department of Defense Industrial Policy group in conjunction with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce is examining all critical materials needed to fight the pandemic including forcing manufacturers to increase allocations of grocery items to the commissary distribution chain.  This action is enabled by the Defense Production Act (DPA) and the accompanying Defense Priorities and Allocation System that “is used to prioritize national defense-related contracts/orders throughout the U.S. supply chain in order to support military, energy, homeland security, emergency preparedness, and critical infrastructure requirements.”  A Defense memorandum on the DPA is here.

Grocery Workers, Truck Drivers “Critical Infrastructure”

The Department of Homeland Security has designated most workers in the food supply chain as “critical infrastructure”.  The DHS guidance can be found here includes the following: 

Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail (including unattended and vending) that sells human food, animal and pet food and pet supply, and beverage products, including retail customer support service and information technology support staff necessary for online orders, pickup, and delivery.

Food manufacturer workers and their supplier workers including those employed at food ingredient production and processing facilities; aquaculture and seafood harvesting facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing byproducts for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging.

Workers supporting or enabling transportation and logistics functions, including truck drivers, bus drivers, dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and rest area workers, driver training and education centers, Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) workers, enrollment agents for federal transportation worker vetting programs, towing and recovery services, roadside assistance workers, intermodal transportation personnel, and workers that construct, maintain, rehabilitate, and inspect infrastructure, including those that require cross-jurisdiction travel.).

CDC Guidance on Treating Infected Workers

The CDC has published interim guidance on treating infected workers.

New House Bill Would Grant Gold Star Families Access to Commissary, Base Recreation

The families of fallen service members could gain access to on-base benefits such as the commissary and recreation facilities though a House bill introduced recently.  “We need to continue to honor those services members who we have lost by fully supporting their families,” said Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla.  “It should be a bipartisan issue.”

The bill was introduced last month and is cosponsored by Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla.  It grants access to commissaries, exchanges and MWR programs to surviving family members.

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