Nonprofits open new chapter in grocery business
Thursday, March 22, 2018
It is a matter of perspective. One could call it a new twist in the grocery business or a rather old one of helping our fellow man.
The Salvation Army announced this month the opening of its first grocery store. Located in an underserved neighborhood of Baltimore, the nonprofit store will provide healthy and affordable food for all. The charity organization has been synonymous with helping underprivileged communities, and this 7,000-square-foot warehouse is the latest in their long tradition of service.
Called DMG Foods, the store will be the first in the country to combine social service with traditional grocery business. DMG (which stands for "doing the most good") will provide more than affordable groceries. The store will also offer shopping education, nutritional guidance and meal-planning advice, along with workforce development.
The Salvation Army has been hard at work in offering various food initiatives in the area, but they soon realized these were not sustainable solutions. Thus grew the idea of a community grocery store. What was once an urban "food desert" will now be a food haven for local families. They can choose from a wide selection of perishable and nonperishable items — from a variety of brands — and enjoy wide access to fresh meats and produce.
While the grocery wars between the big names like Amazon, Walmart, Kroger and Costco have dominated the news, nonprofits have been quietly making a difference.
Like The Salvation Army's DMG Foods, Daily Table grocery store has worked on improving lives in Boston. With a new second location to serve more inner-city neighborhoods, it is all set to become a national chain.
Prince George's County in Maryland is looking at similar expansion of its nonprofit grocery store, Good Food Markets. After the resounding success of the first one in Northeast Washington, they are now planning a second store in Seat Pleasant and then on to other underserved areas.
While the business model is different from SA's, the underlying mission is the same — to eliminate the food desert and offer affordable, healthy foods for locals. They also plan to involve the local populace in their workforce, thereby contributing to a more holistic growth for these communities.
For other urban food deserts that have yet to see a dedicated grocery store, innovative options have come to the rescue. In Ohio, for instance, food deserts in Canton and Massillon have benefited from StarkFresh's mobile grocery market. Following these success stories, the mobile nonprofit is all set to serve the region of Alliance next.
Where a nonprofit grocery store seems like a long way to go, like in Kansas, there are other options. A local nonprofit is working hard to bring fresh produce to the area's convenience stores.
With designated aisles for produce, locals will now have the choice of fresh meat and produce. Kanbe's Markets is the nonprofit organization behind the initiative. They want to offer affordable, fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables for locals when there were none before.
The primary focus of all these endeavors is to bring healthy, affordable food to communities that have limited grocery options.
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