Returning citizens help prepare turkeys for community-wide Thanksgiving meal


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — It is almost time for the annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving dinner in Baltimore, which will serve hot holiday meals to the homeless and poor. Right now, inmates from the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown are preparing turkeys for the meal.

Inmates are prepping over 200 Thanksgiving turkeys.

“We’re removing the bones they’re packing them up and are separating thighs from wings,” said returning citizen Taron Melvin.

The turkeys will be shipped out from the Maryland Correctional Enterprises Meat Plant in Hagerstown to Baltimore for the annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving meal.

“It’s a good feeling because you’re actually helping… giving back and that’s you know that’s very important to me,” said returning citizen Eric Little.

The community service project is all part of a larger program within the prison system to help inmates get jobs as meat cutters.

“It’s a 2-year apprenticeship program where we train inmates to learn the meat cutting trade for when they are released they are licensed through the Department of Labor so once they’re released they can go out and get a job,” stated Jim Kalbflesh, MCE Hagerstown Meat Plant manager.

Right now, there are 13 inmates in training at the MCE meat plant in Hagerstown. Over 100 have graduated from the program since it started.

“They teach you employment readiness skills they teach you the basics of meat cutting, butchering,” said Melvin.

The Thanksgiving turkey preparation and meat cutting program both serve the greater purpose of prison reform.

“They get it they’re appreciative of the opportunity to help the Bea Gaddy Family Center but also every day this work that helps them work toward that certification and work toward a job in our community wherever they’re returning to in the state of Maryland,” said Robert Green, secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Bea Gaddy was a former City Council member of Baltimore and was well-known for helping the poor and homeless during her lifetime.

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