Bringing Food to the Forces
Bringing Food to the Forces

No matter where they’re stationed, members of the U.S. military need convenience store items, likely get a hankering for fast food or become in desperate need of a haircut. For America’s men and women in uniform, the comforts of daily life are found at either the Navy Exchange (NEX), the Army and Ai.....

No matter where they’re stationed, members of the U.S. military need convenience store items, likely get a hankering for fast food or become in desperate need of a haircut. For America’s men and women in uniform, the comforts of daily life are found at either the Navy Exchange (NEX), the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Marine Corps Community Services (MCX) or the Coast Guard Exchange System, which all resemble a department store, sell consumer goods and services to active military members, reserve and veterans and offer amenities such as movie theaters and electronics stores.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) operate the largest number of facilities, with 3,100 locations in more than 30 countries, ?ve U.S. territories and 50 states. AAFES operates some 160 retail stores and more than 1,000 fast food restaurants including Taco Bell, Burger King and Popeyes. Wing Zone, a takeout and delivery franchise known for its award-winning flavors of fresh, cooked-to-order chicken wings, capitalized on the opportunity to bring man’s favorite meal to America's 85-percent-male military.

Wing Zone has seven restaurants through the partnership with AAFES with plans to open two more on Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. and Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio by the year’s end. The restaurants located on bases are owned and operated by AAFES, which acts as the franchisee.

“Our partnership with the AAFES has been extremely successful. Each store has continued to excel since its opening, and the restaurants that deliver to military bases are some of our highest volume restaurants,” said Dan Corrigan, director of marketing at Wing Zone. “Our key demographic is single males, and military bases generally fit that target.”

Not only do military exchanges have growth opportunities for brands, it has also become a major source of employment for veterans and military families. While veteran unemployment is at the forefront of national discussion, a lesser-known statistic is the 26 percent unemployment rate of military spouses.  Approximately 23 percent of the more than 42,000 exchange associates are military family members, 10 percent are veterans and two percent are active-duty or reserve personnel working part-time in exchanges during their off-duty hours.

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