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Treats for troops in Afghanistan

I am in a group which is preparing treat boxes for troops in Afghanistan.

I would like to include some homemade goodies along with the books, booklights, socks, batteries, and the like.

Does anyone have experience with this?

I would appreciate suggestions for treats that would travel well, and unfortunately, I will have limited cooking/baking time. Am hoping to maximize the time with something that will really please the recipients.


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  1. Unless the soldiers know you they aren't supposed to eat the treats you send them.

    I have a soldier penpal and I send him packaged cookies that are less likely to melt!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tashasarena

      Thank you, Tasha. Yes, am aware of the guidelines for the troops' safety. By packaged cookies, you mean commercial ones, not homemade?

    2. Thank you. I'm planning to send nuts, hot chocolate mix, coffee, and jerky. If you have any other suggestions, please send them along.

      1 Reply
      1. re: laredo

        Package I'm sending tomorrow is: beef jerky, Pringle packs, lifesavers, brownies, Pez, chewing gum, candy, and sunflower seeds. My last package included crackers, body wash, moist toilette's, Halloween candy, etc.

        You could also send instant oatmeal, popcorn, summer sausage, drink mixes (like Crystal Lite, lemonade, etc.), individual snacks (like the 100 calorie kind), individual cereal, peanut butter, Easy Mac.. there are lots of lists :)

      2. Thank you again, Tasha. YOur selections sounds marvelous.

        To date I have treat bags stuffed with candies, packages of hand warmers, hot chocolate packets, candy canes, gum, jerky, and paperback books.

        I was planning to buy jars of peanuts, but was told that would be too bulky. Our boxes will be going to troops constantly on the move, as I understand, and all treats will have to be stowed and carried in their packs.

        Am planning to shop for pen lights, booklights, socks, and chapstick.

        Do you think small packets of coffee would be welcome? And individual wipe packets. I had wondered about sunflower seeds. I'll do that too.

        Thank you.

        6 Replies
        1. re: laredo

          Maybe disposable razors? Instead of the waxy chapstick, which can melt, how about some that are more liquid to begin with? I'm trying to find one so I can tell you the name. Just found one-it is from Blistex called lip infusion- the cherry one I found is good!

          I think those 100 calore packs are a good idea. A nephew by marriage is going over at the end of the month so I've been thiking of what would be good to send over too. Probably hand creams too, as I think it may be getting pretty cold there soon, but not sure, as I haven't known any one till now that had to serve there, good bless them all!

          Those little packs of coffee sounds like a good idea too. All kinds of nuts and protein bars, and maybe packs of flavored water add-ins?

          1. re: hummingbird

            Thank you, hummingbird.

            I am not familiar with the water-flavorings. Would I find these on the water aisle?

            1. re: laredo

              The water add-ins are single packets of powdered drink mixes like Crystal Light. I usually see these near the iced tea and other powdered mixes, though some markets do put small displays by the bottled water.
              I would add packaged dried fruits, trail mix... things that are dense in calories and pack well.

              Just as an aside, don't forget there are LADIES who serve our country as well. A package of, um, lady products, would be a welcome relief for them, especially if you are adding other health care items like razors and chapstick.

              1. re: iluvcookies

                Crystal Light is ok but look for products specifically designed to replace electrolytes. Gatorade and G2 (low calorie) are good one.

                As far as feminime products go, those are rather personal in nature. If you know the person, ask for their preferences and send some of those. They probably have products available at the PX but I know how uncomfortable one can be if forced to change brands. It happened to me when I was overseas (a long long time ago).

                1. re: Dee S

                  Sadly, a fair number of military personnel in Afghanistan don't have access to a PX. I agree though that feminine articles are rather personal, and should probably be left to care packages sent from a close friend or family member.

                  My cousin's husband is in a fairly remote location, no PX and intermittent communications. His #1 requests were Pop-Tarts and bed sheets. I went shopping the other day and bought 2 boxes of Pop-Tarts, hot chocolate mix, chap stick, lotion, and travel size wet wipes. It appears that the soldiers in Afghanistan need seasonal chap stick - the solid stick form melts in the summer but the liquid squeeze tube form freezes in the winter.

                2. re: iluvcookies

                  I'm going to agree with sending the lady products. I lived in a country where the selection was inadequate, and not every woman is lucky enough to have family members who have the money/resources to send care packages on a regular basis.

                  I second the people who suggest protein/granola bars. I think they're better than candy since most of them have some nutritional value. You could probably also send cereal bars since a lot of them have added vitamins as well.

          2. As soldiers are limited to the DFACs, I tend to hear a lot about the lack of access to healthy food. Cookies and candies are nice, but some have commented that they're awash in them already. For the health conscious ones, I found Steve's Paleo Kits very popular. Jerky, dried fruit, and nuts all keep well.

            1. Protien and granola bars are always a big hit, and unless they are chocolate covered, they travel well most of the year. Trail mix is another good one. Most bases have at least sporadic access to a PX/BX, so the junk food is usually purchased there.

              The individual packets of gatorade and crystal light are always in high demand, especially the CL Sunrise Orange in the winter time so that they get extra vitamin C.

              Individual packets of tuna are good, and if you also send along the individual mac n' cheese cups they can make a hillbilly tuna cassarole. (Been there, did that, had people walking down the hall just to ask what I was eating because they were jealous! :) Meals that don't need a lot of preparation except perhaps some water and a microwave are always good for the times when they just don't feel like facing DFAC food again.

              If you send hard candies, send individually wrapped things so that they can just grab a handful on the go and shove them in pockets. Great for soothing a scratchy throat and soothing during dust storms.

              And if you are sending anything with soap or a scent, there are a few tips to keep the food from taking on the smells. If it is a bar of soap, wrap it in foil prior to putting it in a baggie. That helps the soapy taste stay off of the food and candy. Any body washed should probably be double bagged, just in case.

              If you can find the individual sanitizing hand wipes, those are a godsend! Even with required hand washing stations in every DFAC, it is nice to have some hand sanitizer on you!

              1. I've sent beef jerky, Crystal light mix, Slim Jims, canned veggies, canned fruit, spices, tabasco sauce, condiments, instant oatmeal, Easy Mac N Cheese, mixed nuts, dried fruits, tuna packets, chicken packets, and instant noodles. I have sent these and other goodies to soliders and Marines I contacted via anysoldier.com. If you read the requests there, you can get a very good idea of what to send. After having sending a number of packages, they sometimes sent requests for other specific items, such as books, cards (to send home), etc. But one of the best things to send are handwritten notes and such. Snail mail means a lot more than email to many of those stationed there.

                2 Replies
                1. re: raytamsgv

                  Thank you. These are wonderful ideas. You have been very helpful.

                  Weight is a limitation for this particular situaion, unfortunately, as whatever we send will have to be put in their backpacks and carried. They do not live in a camp-type situation.

                  I agree about the nutrional aspects; I also have heard their food is limited. Wish now I had not bought so many sweets. Will stock up on the other things now as much as weight will allow.

                  Thank you so much.

                  1. re: laredo

                    Nutrition bars (e.g. Clif bars) are also helpful especially if they are patrol. Also, you might want to get your hands on those single packets of hot sauce, sugar, salt or other condiments that you see in fast food stores. Those can be very handy.

                2. We sent our soldier (home safely now after two deployments!) homemade cookies and other baked goods, and they were a big hit not only with him but with all those he was serving with. Other than that, we know that nuts, jerky, Slim Jim-type sausages, and similar foods were appreciated. We actually ended up joining one of the wholesale buying "clubs" to get large containers of these things at more affordable prices.

                  I know you're thinking primarily of food items, but towelettes and moisturizing eye drops were also greatly welcome.

                  Thank you for what you are doing. We kept records of our shipments and at last count have sent upwards of a half-ton of food and clothing (for the Afghans) to Afghanistan in the last couple years. It was one of the most rewarding projects we've ever undertaken.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: FlyFish

                    Thanks for replying, FlyFish.

                    I'm thrilled and grateful that your soldier is home safely; and I appreciate his service.

                    Yes, definitely towelettes. Is there a kind that is more of a sanitizer than the usual handi-wipe types?

                    Is there a preferred brand of jerky? I normally don't buy it.

                    Thank you.

                    1. re: laredo

                      laredo - To be honest with you, I didn't pay a great deal of attention to brands on those items. We simply went to our local "warehouse" retailer, which happened to be BJs here outside of Boston, and stocked up on whatever we could get in large quantities without breaking the bank. It all seemed to be appreciated.

                      Another thing you may want to look into is contacting food manufacturers to see if they'll send items gratis. We had a wonderful response from Frito Lay, who sent a case of Slim Jims to our soldier's outfit, and also from a soccer ball company (name escapes me at the moment, I'm afraid) who sent a case of soccer balls that the soldiers could give to the Afghani kids. The smiles on those kids' faces in the photos . . . priceless.

                      1. re: FlyFish

                        Thanks, again everyone!

                        I just bought Chapstick instead of Carmex, which I think is liquid. I hadn't thought about the possibility of its freezing, so I guess that was a lucky decision.

                        Next in search of jerky and cereal bars. Will check with my leader on feminine products. (Yes, you don't know what you're missing until they aren't available. Have experienced that myself.)

                        Thanks, everybody.

                        1. re: laredo

                          The chapstick thing is interesting. My soldier mentioned it getting cold (he's in Iraq).. don't know if it is freezing there yet.

                  2. Weather.com says low of 50 in Baghdad.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: laredo

                      I'm not sure how that is relevant to a care package going to Afghanistan, where the climate is not at all like what you'd find in Baghdad. Afghanistan tends to have weather in both extremes- extremely cold in winter and hot in the summer. That's why there are issues with food and chapstick melting in summer and freezing in winter.

                      1. re: queencru

                        An update: Today we packed and shipped 18 boxes to troops in Afghanistan. Everyone brought their contributions and we piled them on a pool table. The mound was about two feet high. There were almost all the things suggested in your postings plus some others, including what we are assured will be the biggest prize: chewing tobacco. No, it's not healthy, but if it helps get some young person through the deployment ordeal, it's ok with me. We also included Christmas cards and notes.

                        Your ideas were very helpful and I am grateful for your kindness.

                        1. re: laredo

                          Thank you for doing something for the troops in Afghanistan.

                          1. re: raytamsgv

                            You're welcome. My pleasure and honor.

                    2. While my son is not in Afghanistan, he's in Iraq and has finally settled in. It appears food is not an issue, but then again, he's not out in the field. While stationed stateside for pre-deployment training, he said some troops were getting 3-4 packages a week. A TON of stuff had to be discarded when they departed. So, while sending care packages may be a great idea, it might be best to determine where your soldier is stationed and their food situation. He can get gum, Clif Bars and all the food he needs. They get batteries (AA and AAA) as needed; they're pretty well taken care of.

                      There's a coffee company that has locations at a lot of bases in the Middle East. My son told me about them and I've read through their site. I think this is a great idea; essentially, you can buy a cup of coffee (at $2.00 per) for soldiers who are serving over seas. By using this "Cup of Joe" program, the soldier will receive a cup of coffee and your personal message. Apparently, most (if not all) soldiers respond and everything is via e-mail. It's a nice way to say thanks without breaking the bank!

                      Green Beans coffee is the company and it's been around since 1997. I have no affiliation (except for my son telling me the coffee's pretty darned tasty!!).