PCS Confession: I Don’t Feed My Movers

PCS Confession: I Don't Feed My Movers

In the height of PCS season we here at NextGen MilSpouse took to Facebook to ask the all important question:

Do you tip your movers?

Overwhelmingly military spouses responded that while they don’t give them money, they do provide food for their movers. The most popular food items are coffee, donuts, pizza, sandwiches and drinks.

PCS Confession: I Don't Feed My Movers

That’s when I realized that I was completely in the minority. Not only have we never tipped our military assigned packers and movers, we don’t provide food. Never. Not once in our three PCSes.

When I told my husband that people provide lunch for their movers, he said, “weird.” He didn’t understand why.

When asked why they feed their moving crews, military spouses say this

Happy movers means a better move with less broken things.

I say they are professionals hired to do a job. They take breaks throughout the day, including a long lunch break. Why do we need to give them food?

These aren’t our friends volunteering their weekend to load a U-Haul truck and move us across town or help us load up for a PPM. When we moved from our rental to our first purchased home, we gave our friends coffee, lunch and lots of beer for helping us.

Feed our movers? Nope. Not once. Honestly it never crossed my mind.

Here’s What You Said

When it comes to tipping the movers, the consensus seems to be that this may not be allowed under the government contract. And you may not have the same people on either end of your move, especially if you don’t do a door-to-door, so that’s a lot of cash. And there is no guarantee that your stuff won’t break in transit or in storage. Because let’s be real, stuff breaks. On our first move we had a few fragile wine glasses break, and who knows if it was the packer’s fault or mine when unwrapping them quickly.

Food is a whole other thing. I get it, it’s a nice gesture. Food is my love language. I love me a good doughnut and you know I love coffee, so who wouldn’t love being greeted with food?

Related: Fewer PCSes In Our Future? DoD Says ‘Maybe’

But contracts still allow for breaks so it’s not like they will move any quicker because donuts are on your kitchen island. Heck, they may even have sticky fingers afterward because who doesn’t love a glazed doughnut? And well, I don’t want to clean sticky plates when I unpack them a week later in my new home.

And what if the movers have food allergies? Then you have more food to eat yourself. Many of our Facebook fans commented that they’ve had some packers with “sensitive” stomachs.

If you’re OCONUS you also have a cultural divide to bridge. In some cultures it’s not acceptable to offer food. If you’ve lived there for a few years, you likely know that, but double-check before buying those pastries.

Should I Feed My Movers? 

Honestly this discussion didn’t swayed my opinion for our next PCS.

There are too many factors for me to deal with on top of the stress of a PCS. I’m already making sure that I’ve packed every important paper and clothes for every weather option. Oh, and the air mattress, sheets and towels.

Picking up coffee and pastries or a sandwich tray? Yeah, this milspouse ain’t got time for that.

Do I offer them water from my fridge or sink? Or those leftover sodas from the last FRG event? Of course, come on, I’m not heartless.

But I don’t think that offering something to my movers beyond my respect will change the course of my PCS. On the one move where we had significant damage, I don’t think food would have changed the outcome.

I expect the packers and movers to do their job. I greet them with respect, explain where the Do Not Pack items are, check in to see how they are doing and that everything is out of a room. I’ll direct them to all of the new rooms and hope that the room with all my book boxes will really be my home office. But otherwise, they are adults and I expect that they packed their own snacks and the Mountain Dew they are holding is plenty of sugar for them.

You can call me crazy but I’m sticking to my no-food-for-the-movers rule. Anyone want to join me?

Are you looking for PCS tips for a smooth move? Subscribe to the NextGen MilSpouse Happy Hour podcast. We share tips and tricks to help make military life easier. 



  1. People, all people, regardless of their job or education, like to know they are appreciated and valued. It doesn’t always need to be food/drinks, but moving is hard work and most PCS seasons are in the summer and it’s usually hot and those days are long. There are times moving companies send less packers and movers than we really need. It isn’t the fault of the people that show up, they are going to be working later than they planned.

    Do I feed them because I want my them to take care of my material possessions? No, not really. While I would hope they would take care of my stuff anyway, I feed them because I want them to know I value the work they are doing for me, for my family, and in their own way, they are supporting the military. It’s a personal choice. Spending $20-$100 every moving season, which isn’t typically an annual event, isn’t going to break my family budget. If a mover leaves my house and says, “hey, that was a really nice family. It was a long day, but they made it just a little bit more enjoyable by their words and or deeds” then I am happy with my small investment.

  2. You’re right, you don’t have to do a thing for those movers. They should come prepared and ready work. They should do their jobs without any special add ons. True. However, your smug smile and post reeks of privilege. Hard labor burns serious calories and they don’t always have time to eat. My movers went as far as to ask me if they could take a water break in TEXAS in June. I provided them with lunch and tons of water. I encouraged breaks, because heat stroke is real. Because I know it’s hard work.
    Seriously? You JUST wrote a post about the PRIVILEGE of going to a ball, but you can’t feed people?
    You can’t opt for a sandwich or even some granola bars? Because they aren’t your FRIENDS? Do you ever do anything if you’re not going to get an immediate benefit?
    For goodness sakes, movers have to ASK to use the restroom! At least give them a meal and try to be kind. This military spouse (who runs a business and is a care taker) has time for compassion.

  3. Think of it this way. Do you work more efficiently and faster on a full stomach? Probably yes, movers and packers usually are paid per move not the hr but you usually pay by the hr or nothing at all because you are millitary. So they want to get your stuff safely packed and out the door as fast as possible. This being said they dont stop for lunch or breaks if you provide food and drinks in your home where it’s most convenient. Trust me an overworked hungry worker is the last person you want packing your belongings.

  4. This is awful! I came across your article recently while seeking advice on whether to feed and tip the packers or movers, or just feed them. People thank us for our service all the time in various different ways, so who are we to not return the favor? Wow, show some respect and appreciation once in a while. It is called being a decent human being. I certainly hope you do not speak for the majority of military families on this matter. A little goes a long way. In 7 moves our packers/movers never took breaks unless it was sitting around the “yet to be packed” dining table laughing and telling stories, enjoying the company of one another, eating the food that WE provided them for working so diligently and not ever questioning our appreciation for their support.


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