Pop star

Debra Moore knows why business is popping for her company, Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn.

“We have a great product and great customer service,” she said.

Based in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Grand Prairie, TX, Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn sells savory, sweet and premium popcorn treats to customers across the nation.

“As much as I want everybody to taste my popcorn, sometimes the cost of shipping is a deterrent,” she said.

That’s why Moore was excited when George Fernandez, a local rural carrier, told her about USPS Connect Local, a pilot program that allows small businesses to take advantage of same-day and next-day package delivery at affordable rates.

Fernandez later submitted a lead to Jenny Yoo, a business lead development specialist, and Ronald Williams, a senior field sales representative, who met with Moore and told her more about USPS Connect Local. She immediately signed up and is now one of the pilot program’s top shippers.

“This is ideal for me. I have a food product that has an expiration date. If I can get it out as quickly as possible, that’s going to benefit me because my customers are going to be happy and then they will come back,” Moore said.

Launched in July, the USPS Connect Local pilot is available in more than 800 locations in Texas. The program is a major component of the Postal Service’s 10-year Delivering for America plan.

Moore started her business in 2012 to supplement her family’s income, initially selling popcorn at fairs and festivals.

The company opened a store in Grand Prairie in 2018 and now has seven employees.

Even the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t slowed down the booming business.

“People are home and they were watching movies. You’ve got to have popcorn when you’re watching movies. I like to say we are the comfort food of COVID,” she said.

With USPS Connect Local, Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn can keep its Dallas-Fort Worth customers snacking.

Said Moore: “It has been a benefit for us. As a small business, we must look at our costs and what we are spending money on. Saving on shipping locally, that’s a plus for me. USPS Connect Local allows me to compete.”

Peak track

The Postal Service is offering new training videos to help employees use data during peak season.

The 15-video Peak Operations course, which is available through the Analytics University educational platform, is part of Bronze2021, a curriculum that offers certifications in processing, logistics, and retail and delivery.

The track consists of 5-7 minute videos that focus on applying the latest analytic tools to inform and enhance peak season decisions. Topics include how to use data analytics and visibility tools to best manage mail and package movement, align staffing needs, generate efficient routes and optimize processing performance.

“We’ve revamped the Analytics University curricula and the latest Peak Operations track highlights the essential tools needed to navigate the Postal Service’s busiest time of the year,” said Jeff Johnson, Enterprise Analytics vice president.

“Learning about the dynamic platforms available to our workforce, how each tool complements the other and using this knowledge to improve how we move mail efficiently is the goal.”

The new course features some of the latest tools developed by the Postal Service, such as the Business Intelligence Capacity Model (BICM), a program that offers round-the-clock operational insights that show potential gridlock in the postal processing and delivery network before problems occur.

“Videos covering overviews about BICM, parcel overflow and other topics will provide insight into what we should know about our daily operations management,” said Johnson. “Through proper education and access to teachable content available through AU, we will help create a smarter USPS workforce and a more resilient organization.”

To see an example of a Bronze2021 level peak video, view the BICM Overview video on BlueTube.

Analytics University was established in 2017 and is available to all employees with an ACE ID on the USPS network at au.usps.gov.

Text attack

The Postal Service wants employees to be aware of smishing attacks on USPS-issued mobile devices.

The attacks involve urgent text messages about USPS parcels that require immediate action, a common smishing tactic.

Smishing is a text version of phishing — emails sent from seemingly legitimate entities designed to con recipients into divulging proprietary information.

Cyber criminals are increasingly using smishing attacks because text messages are often viewed as more trustworthy than emails by consumers, who send approximately 20 billion text messages every day in the United States.

Smishing messages contain links to scam websites and are usually sent from spoofed phone numbers that disguise original sender’s number.

Don’t click on any link or attachment in a message sent from a text mobile phone number you don’t have saved in your contacts list or cannot verify.

To secure the USPS network and avoid smishing scams, filter unfamiliar text mobile phone numbers by following these steps:

Apple users: Go to “Settings,” then “Messages” and toggle on the “Filter Unknown Senders” option. This will create a new tab in your Messages app called “Unknown Senders.”

Android users: Go to “Settings,” then “Spam Message Settings” and select the “Block Unknown Senders” option.

The CyberSafe at USPS Blue and LiteBlue pages have additional information.

Alzheimer’s disease

November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time to learn more about the most common cause of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder that irreversibly affects the health of the brain, causing a decline in memory, reasoning and the ability to handle everyday tasks.

Dementia is a collective term to describe a group of diseases and symptoms of cognitive decline.

Alzheimer’s disease is the fifth-leading cause of death for adults 65 years and older, and the sixth-leading cause of death for all adults.

The greatest known risk factor is increasing age. While Alzheimer’s disease typically occurs in those 65 or older, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a rarer form, can develop within the age ranges of 30-60.

Alzheimer’s disease occurs in stages and worsens over time. Some warning signs include:

• Changes in memory that disrupt everyday activities;

• Confusion with time or place;

• Alterations in personality; and

• Difficulty having conversations.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown.

There is no definitive treatment for preventing or slowing the disease. However, research shows maintaining healthy lifestyles with social activity and through intellectual stimulation helps with aging and brain health.

In 2017, the Postal Service introduced a semipostal stamp to raise funding for Alzheimer’s disease research.

The National Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites have resources to support families and caregivers, while the Wellness LiteBlue page has overall health information.