The Salvation Army will open the nonprofit’s first grocery store in Baltimore next week, in what it hopes will become a national model.
DMG Foods, named in homage to the organization’s motto, “Doing the most good,” will offer low-cost, healthy food in an area that spokesman Gene Hogg said borders a food desert, or “healthy food priority area,” as Mayor Catherine E. Pugh recently designated areas without a grocery store.
Located in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse on East 29th Street in Waverly close to the Book Thing, DMG is much smaller than a typical Giant or Safeway supermarket.
The Salvation Army’s nonprofit status enables it to charge less than corner markets, and to succeed in an area where many for-profit grocers are reluctant to open, Hogg said.
“You can feed a family of four for under $10,” Hogg said.
It will feature an on-site butcher, as well as pre-made meals and salads from partners at the Maryland Food Bank. Nonperishable items will include national brands as well as an in-house brand called Best Yet.
“People who live in poverty, they feel trapped by the limited choices they have,” Hogg said. So, whether it’s Kraft macaroni or store brand, Hogg said, “we always want to provide a choice.”
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According to its website, the store aims to double the amount of food that people can purchase with SNAP — which provides about $4 per person per day in benefits. But DMG Foods will be open to all shoppers, regardless of income, Hogg said. Additional coupons and giveaways will be available to people who receive benefits through SNAP.
The store also will offer inspiration by displaying healthy, economical meal preparation in a cooking area.
The store will offer job training to people seeking experience working in grocery stores. Any profits from the store will go to Catherine’s Cottage, which offers housing to victims of human trafficking.
Hogg said Baltimore was chosen for the store after the 2015 riots, when Salvation Army workers delivered goods to first responders and found that many of the area’s markets had been looted.
“God gave us the vision to open a grocery store,” he said. “We thought that would be a good test area to address the food desert situation in Baltimore.”
So far, he said, response from the community has been “extremely positive.”
The grand opening March 7 will include an appearance by Pugh as well as a giveaway of 50 bags of groceries, milk and other items.