SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan – A new monthly forum for community residents to ask questions and hear updates from local commissioners kicked off here Tuesday.
Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, joined Totolua Ripley, director of the Sagamihara Family Housing Area and Camp Zama commissioners, for the first edition of the forum which he said aims to take care of people.
“We want to provide the highest quality products and resources to our associates so they can get what they need,” Hunter said. “And that’s also an important feedback loop for us, knowing that these are their concerns.”
The ongoing forum, which will be held on the second Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. in the SFHA commissary, will discuss upcoming sales events, supply chain, product quality and food safety, as well as product recalls.
Hunter believes face-to-face interaction with commissioner officials will give residents more clarity about the behind-the-scenes work being done at the commissioners.
“It’s an opportunity to communicate and answer people’s questions directly,” he said. “Sometimes people just don’t know, or they’ve heard something (else), so this is an important way to ensure the correct information is shared and understood.”
One of the challenges mentioned during the forum was the delay of shipments arriving at stores.
Ripley said this has been a problem in recent years because commissioners have had to rely on U.S. container shipping companies to move goods from the United States.
But if a ship encounters mechanical problems, it must turn around and transfer its containers to another ship to resume the long journey, further pushing the limits of many goods with shorter expiration dates.
“When it comes to perishable products, it’s very critical because the shelf life is limited,” Ripley said. “By the time a product gets here, we have maybe five or six days to try to sell it. »
The U.S. Transportation Command recently approved the use of non-U.S. shipping companies to ensure continued deliveries to commissaries in Japan. Last month, Ripley said a Singapore-based ship was used to transport goods here for the first time.
“I hope this solves the problem of delays,” he said. “They fill in the gaps where we don’t have a ship to set sail.”
The initial forum also allowed soldiers from Japan’s Public Health Activity to discuss the food inspections they conduct daily in stores to ensure only safe, quality products are on the shelves.
If a shopper discovers a spoiled or infested product, for example, Ripley encourages them to return it to the commissary for a free replacement, even if they no longer have the receipt.
“It’s always best to come and bring the product,” he said, “so we can trace it back to its origin and see where we had problems with it.”
Megan Hansen, a military spouse, was one of the residents to join the chat and ask questions of the leaders. She plans to spread the information she learned to other family members within the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
“I think it’s great that they’re doing it,” she said of the forum. “Because if problems arise, (residents won’t) feel like they’re not being heard.” This will end these problems and I think it will help (the commissioners) as well.
Ripley said he looks forward to receiving more feedback from customers and updating them on any efforts to entice them back into stores.
“It’s very important, because they’re the customers, they’re the ones we serve,” he said. “Anytime there’s a problem and a customer isn’t happy, it’s good for us to have that communication.” »
(Editor’s Note: Those interested in attending the Commissioners Forum can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.)