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Seal, label packages correctly

Remember your military relatives and friends in Afghanistan and around the world with a holiday package from home. Remember to mail early for your holiday packages to reach their destination by the holidays.

Parcel post is the most economical shipping option for families sending holiday Packages. Check with your local United States Postal Service to get deadlines for military mailings for the holidays. U.S. Department of Defense regulations require that all packages must be addressed to individual service members. All military mail is shipped by domestic mail rate, regardless of the destination. International rates do not apply to military mail delivery.

Foods that ship well include pound cakes, cookies high in sugar and shortening, bar cookies, brownies, and fudge. Shortbread, sugar cookies and nut bars ship well. Avoid cookies with perishable fillings such as cream or custard. Fruit and nut fillings work best. Soft, moist cookies will mold quickly in humid climates.

Coffee blends are easy to pack into decorative plastic or metal containers and ship. Dried fruits, nuts, spiced teas, herb blends, and party mixes of cereals and nuts are good choices. Delicate cakes that crumb easily, pies and yeast breads are fragile and spoil easily.

When sending food to military troops:

Do not send fresh, cured or smoked meat and poultry.

Do not pack food in glass containers or place glass items in with food.

Dry beef, such as beef jerky or beef slims, is safe to ship.

Consider the weather conditions where the recipient is located -- heat, cold and humidity.

Consider commercially processed, durable foods such as canned meats.

Commercially packed cakes and cookies in tins cans, fruit cakes and dry cookies and crackers will hold up well in many weather conditions.

The food gift can be placed in clean boxes, metal food tins, plastic boxes or bags. Then place inside a fiberboard packaging box. When choosing a box, make sure it's roomy enough to allow plenty of packing material on all sides. Start filling your mailing box with a layer of packing material such as newspaper, foam pieces or plastic bubble wrap. Center the gift in the middle of the mailing box. Then overfill the box with cushioning material, making sure there's no air space left in the box. Do not use popped corn or puffed cereal as cushioning packing material, as they attract insects.

Seal the box with mailing tape or filament tape. Address labels should be readable from 30 inches. Cover the label with clear tape. Label the package "Fragile" and "Perishable Food." These special markings should be in three places: above the address, below the postage, and on the back or bottom of your package.

A food gift from home is a special way to send holiday cheer to our troops overseas. Make sure that the gift arrives intact and food safe.

Web posted on Thursday, November 04, 2010

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