Salvation Army Opens Its First Nonprofit Grocery Store

Building community by bringing nutrition and services to food deserts.

By Ethan L. Johns
March 09, 2018

Image: Dan Dalton/Getty Images

Odds are that you know the Salvation Army best for its Christmastime bell-ringing and those padlocked red donation buckets. Maybe you’ve purchased some thrifty clothes from one of the organization’s secondhand stores. Now, the organization is taking the city of Baltimore by storm with a new, low-cost grocery store.

DMG Foods—named for the Salvation Army’s motto, “Doing the Most Good”—was erected in a food insecure area of East Baltimore to serve residents who don’t have easy access to fresh, healthy food. The 7,000-square-foot warehouse will offer fresh vegetables, a butcher’s counter and deli section, as well as pre-made meals and salads from the Maryland Food Bank.

In an effort to dispel the notion that “food desert” implies no food at all, the city of Baltimore ceased using the term at the beginning of 2018, substituting instead the idea of the “healthy food priority area,” which designates a low-income area that is more than a quarter-mile away from fresh food retail locations.

Not only does the DMG Foods fulfill the geographical requirement, but it furthers the Salvation Army’s charitable mission by providing coupons and giveaways to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants, by offering community nutrition education in-store and by providing sales and grocery apprenticeships.

According to CBS Baltimore, the development of this new low-cost grocery store was not all without issues. Before the holidays, the store was robbed and ransacked, with thieves making off with copper piping and deli meat slicing machines.

Despite the hiccups, the community has been supportive. Opening day saw lines of enthusiastic customers snaking out the door.

While this Baltimore DMG Foods is a test location, if it’s successful, the Salvation Army hopes to expand it to other parts of the city—perhaps even to underserved communities around the nation.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns