In an unprecedented move in favor of food access to underserved communities, the Salvation Army has opened its first grocery store. Called DMG (Doing More Good) Foods, the 7,000-square-foot nonprofit grocery store will be in Baltimore, Maryland, where the average person receiving government assistance received, in 2014, less than $4 a day. "The goal of DMG Foods is to double the amount of food that clients can purchase with SNAP benefits," said the Salvation Army in a statement.
The store will have an on-site butcher, a deli counter, and premade meals and salads prepared by the Maryland Food Bank. The Salvation Army's area commander, Gene Hogg, says the store hopes to "present a sustainable model that engages the community in order for them to eat healthier, smarter, cheaper." There will also be on-site cooking demos to teach consumers how to prepare healthful food.
The area where the store is located is considered a food desert, an area where there's no access to healthy food, making it difficult for even wellness-interested residents to change their lifestyle (commitment to access is a huge part of mindbodygreen's ongoing You. We. All. ethos). In the United States alone, approximately 23.5 million people live in food deserts, and half of them are low-income.
To bolster job growth in the community, the store will also provide a five-week workforce-development program. "Ultimately, DMG Foods will not only provide affordable groceries but will give these local residents an opportunity to develop new skills and gain work experience, which in turn will improve their financial welfare and instill a sense of pride and self-worth," the Salvation Army said.
The Baltimore store is considered a test—if it goes well, the Salvation Army hopes to open similar stores around the country, potentially bringing the option of a healthier lifestyle to millions of people.