The Salvation Army will open the nonprofit’s first grocery store on March 7 in northeast Baltimore, Maryland. It will carry the name DMG Foods as a nod to the organization’s motto—“Doing the Most Good.” The will offer low-cost, healthy food in an area bordering a food desert.
The Salvation Army’s area commander, Gene Hogg, said he has high hopes for the store and what it can do for east Baltimore residents who already are getting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The goal of the grocery store, Hogg said, is to “present a sustainable model that engages the community in order for them to eat healthier, smarter, cheaper and all of that.”
For many, it’s a short walk to get healthy food in what used to be a food desert, according to the Salvation Army.
“Our basic target would be the people who live across the street and over in areas where they don’t have transportation, or they have to get on a bus because they can’t go to the local store. Well, they can, but it’s more expensive for them,” Hogg said.
The store is located in a 7,000-s f. warehouse. It will have on-site butcher, a deli counter and pre-made meals and salads prepared by the Maryland Food Bank; non-perishable items include national brands as well an in-house brand called Best Yet.
DMG Foods will be open to all shoppers, regardless of income. Additional coupons and giveaways will be available to people who receive SNAP benefits.
According to the Salvation Army, DMG Foods is the first grocery store in the nation to combine social service with a traditional grocery shopping experience. The group’s social services include nutritional guidance, shopping education, workforce development and meal planning.
The workforce development program teaches retail soft skills and provides hands-on grocery apprenticeship. There also will be some educational sessions teaching people about healthy meals and how to select and prepare them. In a partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, DMG will offer daily meal solutions and cooking demonstrations for its customers.
Hogg said the cooking demos will teach customers about health value of the food in addition to being able to taste the food and “provide an environment to learn how to cook the food.”
In addition, the “Red Shield Club” loyalty program will provide special offers and discounts.
The Baltimore store is a test store and, if all goes well, The Salvation Army plans to open stores in food desert areas all over the country.