Salvation Army is Doing More Good for Baltimore City
Here at BDC, we take our role in the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative seriously, by providing financial, business and technical assistance to grocery stores, including new and emerging models like this one – DMG (Doing More Good) Foods – the Salvation Army’s non-profit grocery store now under construction. It will be the first non-profit grocery store in the city, and one of only a few in the country, focused on providing healthy and staple food access for low income residents, nutrition and food prep education, and be a workforce development tool by training workers for grocery retail with specialized training and certifications. We spoke to our own, Kristin Dawson, about this significant project and its anticipated impact on Baltimore City.
Q: Why did the Salvation Army choose Baltimore as the place for this innovative project?
KD: Salvation Army has long given away food through their mobile canteen and pantry efforts. Because of the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative’s well researched and well documented food desert issue, they were aware of the challenges for certain residents in the city to access healthy food. Salvation Army wanted to create a real grocery store, where residents are empowered to make their own choices and use their own funds, but increase their purchasing power beyond what they can typically afford at a traditional grocery store. So, they came up with this idea for a non-profit grocery store. There were a few that had popped up in other parts of the country (Boston, Philadelphia) they had heard about. They already owned the site at 400 E 29th St as a warehouse and decided to convert a portion of the site to the grocery store.
Q: How will Baltimore City residents benefit from this project?
KD: It will be a full service, small footprint, real grocery store. Not food pantry. Residents will have access to healthy and staple foods at prices that are far below what they can get at a traditional store. They are also going to offer workforce training, and nutrition education.
Q: In what way was BFPI involved in this project?
KD: BDC has been involved from the very start and to a lesser extent other partners in BFPI have been. We helped shape the project to have the workforce development aspect, in part so the store would be less of a threat and more of a partner for existing for-profit grocery stores because we want them to succeed as well. I even took them to Delaware to see a similar workforce model between Goodwill and ShopRite as an example. BDC connected them with wholesalers, grocery operators, potential staff as well as provide a façade improvement grant. We also connected them with folks at the state to get SNAP and WIC authorization. We introduced them to various community associations and appropriate elected officials as well as facilitating approval from the Zoning administration (Is this administration or zoning board?). We tried to help them in every possible way. We try to be their gateway to city government, state government and grocery industry in general.
140 acres of key commercial area along Pennsylvania and W. North Avenue designated as a Focus Area
The BDC’s application for an Enterprise Zone Focus Area designation for key commercial portions of Pennsylvania and W. North Avenue (Central West Baltimore Focus Area) received approval from MD Dept. of Commerce. Enterprise Zones (EZ) program encourages investment in distressed neighborhoods by providing tax credits to spur private investment. A fact sheet about Enterprise Zone and EZ Focus Area benefits can be downloaded here. To download the map of the Central West Baltimore Focus Area, please click here.