They've been processing meat for a while. But now they can offer it for sale as well.

A new retail meat market recently opened its doors to the public at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center (NERCC), bringing the work skills program full circle after more than ten years of planning. Staffed by NERCC residents as part of a job training program, the retail store "offers a variety of poultry, beef, pork, and sausage - all cut and prepared on site".

It's being called the "final step" in the program which has offered beneficial life and work skills to residents. Wally Kostich, Executive Director of the Arrowhead Regional Corrections System explains:

"The meat processing program has been a good service for our residents, teaching skills and setting them up for a future career when they leave here. Now, with the addition of the retail store, we are able to make this program a service to our community, as well, by offering for sale quality meats freshly processed and prepared right here on site."

Funding for the meat processing started a few years ago. After the idea was drafted, officials with NERCC knew they needed to obtain state financial help as the "previous buildings dates back to the 1940's and no longer were up to code". The State of Minnesota helped NERCC out with "three separate bonding bills - in 2015, 2017, and 2020 - authorizing funds for a new meat processing facility".

Since the fall of last year, NERCC residents have worked that processing facility - handling "thousands of chickens, turkeys, pigs, sheep, and cows" each year.

Now the retail meat market gives them an avenue to offer that product to the general public.

Before the retail shop was built though, NERCC needed to obtain the necessary permits. Those were granted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the USDA, and other governing agencies.


The new retail store - located at 6102 Abrahamson Road in Saginaw is open Monday through Thursday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. They'll be expanding their hours and days of operation - adding Friday and Saturday, starting May 1.

According to the details NERCC shared, they operate a 136-bed facility in Saginaw, located on a 3,200-acre working farm - which has been around since the 1930's. That farm raises chickens, turkeys, and pigs - along with a variety of vegetables, hay and barley. The "model has a history of success, increasing an individual's odds of finding employment upon release and reducing recidivism rates".

NERCC is operated by the Arrowhead Regional Corrections system, a joint powers agency providing correctional services to Carlton, Cook, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis Counties.

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