Cutting edge: Baltimore ARC clients to get job training
By: David Ibata
The mission of DMG Foods has always been to offer healthy food choices to a community lacking them, and to produce jobs for residents. Now, the store is starting a job training program: helping candidates from the Baltimore Adult Rehabilitation Center earn certificates as meat cutters.
DMG Foods can do this because from the start, it’s had meat cut fresh in the store.
“We chose to hire a butcher instead of buying pre-packaged meat,” said Major Gene Hogg, Central Maryland area commander. “As we talked to grocers and learned more about the market, we discovered one of the high-skilled labor needs in a grocery store is a meat cutter. Like hospitals looking for nurses, stores are looking for meat cutters.”
Providentially, people at Michigan State University read about DMG Foods in the widespread media coverage surrounding its opening a year ago.
“They reached out to us and said, have you thought about training meat cutters with your butcher?” Major Hogg said. “A couple of years ago, they secured a grant to do an online course for meat cutting. They invited us to participate in that, and they’d give us two scholarships.”
Once an ARC client advances to a certain level, Major Hogg said, he’s ready to seek outside employment, “but because of their histories, people aren’t willing to hire them.”
“Now a certified meat cutter in the Baltimore area can earn $30,000-plus. We thought someone who had gone through our program and stayed sober could be trained as a meat cutter, and grocery stores in the area would hire them. We’d rehabilitate and restore people to a working wage.”
Plans call for the six- to eight-week program to begin this spring with two meat cutters in training, said Lieutenant Allen Adkins. He and his wife Lieutenant Patricia Adkins are administrators of the Baltimore ARC.
“During the day, they’ll be at DMG Foods with the meat cutters there, getting hands-on, practical training,” Lieutenant Allen said. “In the evenings, they’ll come back to the ARC and do their online course work.”
The program teaches all aspects of the profession – from knife safety and sharpening; to the different cuts of meat and how to process them; to packaging, displaying and product rotation; and to sanitation, inspection, labeling, equipment maintenance and licensing. If necessary, Lieutenant Patricia will tutor men in reading.
“From what we’ve been told, the job market for meat cutters is really open,” Lieutenant Allen said. The program will assist graduates with job placement, “and they’ll get to keep their books and the set of knives supplied to them for their use in the course.”
Could success with meat cutting lead to other job-training programs at DMG Foods?
“Absolutely,” Lieutenant Allen said. “We’ve thought about this a lot – helping people build new skills and build new lives.”
“The one thing my wife and I have loved about The Salvation Army from the beginning is, the Army is more concerned about who you are today than who you used to be. Being able to show a person is not the same person he used to be, and to offer job skills to go with it – I think that would be wonderful.”