Paying it forward

We can all use a little help from time to time, and acts of kindness, no matter how small or how large, have a way of restoring faith in the human race. On the other side of the equation, nothing lifts a person’s spirits quite like the opportunity to do something good, just because they can.

The concept of “paying it forward” is not a new one—people have long believed in the power of doing good, and that goodwill will eventually come back to them. The phrase, however, really worked its way into popular vocabulary following the 2000 release of a movie titled ‘Pay it Forward’ (based on a novel with the same title).

The basic premise is that inspired by a school assignment, a young boy comes up with an idea that instead of returning a favour, he will pay it forward by doing good deeds for three other people, leading to a chain reaction that changes many lives.

After the movie’s release, a similar chain reaction of kindness took off across the world as people took the message to heart. Feel-good news stories circulated of strangers paying for the person in line behind them in drive-through cafes, triggering a wave of everyone else in line doing the same (a good day to be last in the queue!), and much larger, life-changing acts of kindness.

Kindness and charity in all their forms are a big part of what brings communities close, and it only stands to reason that with bakeries often at the heart of communities, there would be many individuals and businesses finding a way to give more than the daily bread.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways businesses keep the love and support going in their communities, and how you could get involved in yours—because it does everyone a world of good!

DONATE FOOD

No one knows better about the sheer amount of food that goes to waste every day than the people who work, or have worked in the food industry.

According to food rescue organisation OzHarvest, Australians waste an incredible 7.6 million tonnes of food each year—with 70 per cent of that wasted food perfectly edible. Considering the organisation also reports that over five million Aussies experience food insecurity—that is, not having enough to eat and not knowing where their next meal is coming from—this is devastating. Can you guess what the second most wasted food is (the first is vegetables)? Yes, it’s bread.

If you find that at the end of the day, you’re throwing away perfectly good, surplus food, arranging to donate it to an organisation such as OzHarvest, Foodbank or SecondBite is one of the simplest ways to make a really big difference. Food rescue organisations like these examples will often be able to arrange to pick up the leftovers, and from there they are distributed to local charities, which in turn make sure the food gets into the hands and bellies of those most in need. Now that’s something to feel great about!

LET CUSTOMERS GIVE A LOAF

paying it forward 

You know that feeling? The one you get when a loved one is having a bit of a tough time, and you don’t know how to help or what you can do to show you care? Flowers are a lovely gesture, but a fresh loaf of artisan bread dropped on their doorstep is a million times better.

The Good Bread Project is a Geelong-based bakery that’s a bit like a florist for bread. Started by self-taught baker Jo in 2016, local customers can order a gift loaf of bread for a loved one, which is delivered on Fridays along with a card with a heartfelt message from the giver.

At just $15 for a loaf of bread and delivery, The Good Bread Project is an affordable (and delicious) way to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

RAISE SOME FUNDS FOR A CAUSE

paying it forward

Fundraising is another relatively simple way to give back to your community, and we see bakeries doing this all the time. From sponsoring local sporting teams or donating the bread for a sausage sizzle fundraiser, to selling specialty items—like Baker’s Delight’s pink Finger Buns for breast cancer research or The Old Fernvale Bakery’s “Fun Buns” to raise vital funds for the Children’s Hospital Foundation—a bakery fundraiser will always be a success (face it, you’ve got the product and the people want to buy it)!

SAY ‘THANK YOU’ TO SOMEONE FOR A GREAT JOB

We’re not about to say the past two years, with the COVID-19 pandemic changing life as we know it, have been a walk in the park because they haven’t—especially for those in the hospitality industry. However, these tough years have certainly shown that there are a lot of really good hearts in this country. Early in the pandemic, we saw many examples of bakeries and other businesses going out of their way to give back to the font line workers—doctors, nurses and other staff in hospitals—who were braving danger every day.

Baker Jayme Davey from Orange Spot Bakery in Adelaide baked right through the night in June, 2020, to supply the staff at Calvary Adelaide Hospital with 1000 hot cross buns (Australia’s best in that year!).

“These people are magnificent. Given the circumstances we find ourselves in it’s just amazing that these people rock up to work every day,” Jayme told Baking Business at the time.

“It’s exhausting for us but extremely satisfying. It’s a small cost for what I hope is everyone today just enjoying a small treat.

“You don’t get awarded Australia’s best very often, so why not?”

GIVE SOMEONE A CAREER

 

This is a big one, and it’s what The Bread & Butter Project does every day. The social enterprise bakery was set up by Paul Allam and his Bourke Street Bakery partner, David McGuinness, to empower some of the least privileged in our community—refugees.

In fact, on February 28, The Bread & Butter Project is launching an innovative crowdfunding campaign to raise money to support a program that provides TAFE-certified accreditation, essential English language skills and employment to refugees, many of whom often struggle to find jobs after arriving in Australia.

The Project’s three-week ‘Bake for a Baker’ crowdfunding campaign, commencing on February 28, 2022, will not only help fund the bakery’s next cohort of trainee bakers, but will also encourage people to bond over the simple act of baking bread.

The social and financial outcomes of this campaign are especially important for an organisation that has community at its heart, and which has a focus on providing training and employment pathways in the baking industry for people seeking refuge and asylum.

The campaign will see individuals and businesses across the country, including major Australian brands such as Westpac and Canva, don their aprons like the trainee bakers at The Bread & Butter Project, as they come together in teams to collaborate over the shared challenge of baking breads from around the world.

Participants will form teams of five, and once they reach a minimum collective fundraising target of $250 ($50 per team member), they will be eligible to receive exclusive bread recipes and serving suggestions from The Bread & Butter Project, inspired by the cultures of refugee trainees working in the bakery.

This will create a much-needed connection between people working from home, or families and friends separated by the pandemic, with participants posting their successes (and failures) on Instagram.


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  1. David Winter

    1 April

    Good article!
    From March 2020 till Christmas that year, Bread Street in Mont Albert, Melbourne, funded 10,000 home cooked meals for the elderly, disabled and foreign students who were affected by the pandemic.
    We support all our local schools and clubs with their bread needs, including 1000 hot cross buns to each local school and pre school for their fundraising.
    We employ people with disability (3 at the moment) – one with Downes Syndrome (past 13 years), one with autism (6 years) and an apprentice who started in 2021 with no vision in one eye and limited in the other. All are excellent employees – limited, yet reliable and hard working.
    Each year, we set up a Giving Tree for the needy at Christmas – foster kids and family violence are two groups to benefit regularly.
    One of my staff set up Food Bank donations, which has been extremely well supported by our customers.
    We have been operating since August 2002, , and nearly every other bakery in the area has closed in the past 10 years. We are seen as the local baker and have the respect of the wide community.
    We never spend money advertising.
    And my staff stay. A real team. They start as 15 year olds and leave after their education is finished. Some have long service leave entitlements. We do not terminate their employment when they reach 17 or 18. Instead, they take on more responsibilities.
    Post COVID is a good time to reflect on change

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