By Isabelle Ingle, Intern, Communications, Marketing and Government Relations, FMI

Second Chance Hiring 2023

As the food industry continues to battle workforce issues including recruitment and retention, it’s important to highlight a diverse talent pool that may not be at the forefront of your minds: formerly incarcerated individuals and others impacted by the criminal justice system.

About 70 million people, roughly one third of the United States population, have previously been incarcerated or obtained some type of criminal record. A second chance hiring initiative that employs formerly incarcerated individuals might be a workforce solution worth considering.

To help you get started, FMI has developed the Second Chance Hiring Resource Guide, which includes numerous resources and guidelines to help jumpstart your second chance hiring journey and support those looking to advance an existing program.

The Reality of Turnover Rates

According to The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2023, retailers have an average 65% employee turnover rate, which is an increase from the previous two years, and suppliers have a 36% employee turnover rate. The report also shows how crucial solving workforce issues is to the food industry as they increase their efforts to recruit and retain employees.

A Hidden Solution

Many companies in the food industry have found a wide variety of benefits to second chance hiring, including:

  • Hardworking employees who are loyal and motivated.
  • Lower turnover rates.
  • Reduced costs.
  • A more diverse, inclusive workplace.

In addition, hiring returning citizens is proven to reduce recidivism rates in the United States.

Advancing the Conversation

In FMI’s recent digital seminar, Undiscovered Talent: Exploring Second Chance Hiring, Sandy Brown, co-founder/chairwoman at Uplift Solutions and executive vice president/chairwoman at Brown's Super Stores Inc., shared how Uplift’s reentry training program partners with Brown’s to fill positions in the food retail industry and some of the successful results they have seen.

Harris Rollinger, senior program manager of opportunity talent at KeHE Distributors shared, “I see the intergenerational benefits of employment for folks. Children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to end up incarcerated themselves.” With his impressive experience and true passion for the initiative, Rollinger is striving to make KeHE the national leader in fair chance hiring within the next five to ten years.

Finally, Andre Bethea, senior policy advisor of corrections, reentry and justice reform at Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) U.S. Department of Justice, described the goals of the BJA, “We want to improve the state's reentry, education and employment continuum, from prerelease education through successful post release employment.”

Time to Tap in

After nearly eight weeks at my internship focusing on all things second chance hiring, my greatest point of emphasis to share is the abundance of resources readily available for companies looking to begin working on second chance hiring. Everyone must start somewhere, and thanks to all the existing community organizations and proponents centered around second chance hiring, the initial guidance and support are accessible.

Download Second Chance Hiring: A Resource Guide