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Patrick Commissary selected to offer carts for special-needs children

FORT LEE, Va. -- The Patrick Air Force Base Commissary, Florida, was one of the 40 selected commissaries across the U.S. to soon offer a grocery cart designed specifically for special-needs children.

Called "Caroline's Cartâ„¢," it enables special-needs children - or even adults under 250 pounds - to safely and easily accompany parents or caretakers on commissary shopping trips. The cart provides the option of using one basket instead of pushing both a wheelchair or stroller and a grocery cart when shopping.

"Many retailers and malls are now offering these special-needs carts," said Randy Eller, DeCA's deputy director of logistics. "Placing these carts into our commissaries will provide a valuable service to many military families at these installations."

Eller said some commissaries have already received the carts. "Once we roll out the first 40 and gauge response, we'll see if we should deploy more to the field," he said.

Slightly larger than a traditional shopping cart, the special-needs carts have handles that swing away to allow easy access to the seat, and a platform below the seat serves as a footrest. With the occupant facing the cart operator, the seat contains a five-point adjustable harness for support. The cart's two 8-inch wheels and four casters provide maneuverability and stability, and brakes help ensure safety while loading or unloading the passenger.

The carts will be located at the front of the store, or customers can ask a manager for assistance. Carts will be available only on a first-come, first-served basis. It will be the patron's responsibility to place the individual in the cart.