When Scott Wise, innovation technologist at AB Mauri North America, was walking down the street where he lives, he passed by a bakery location that caught his attention. It was Bridge Bread, a local retail bakery that employs people from St. Louis’ homeless population to bake bread.
Since that meeting, AB Mauri has partnered with Bridge Bread for more than four years to provide ingredients, expertise, and even business partnerships. Wise and Paul Bright, innovation center manager, have worked with the Bridge Bread bakers on recipe development and sharing some baking experience.
“We had all the passion and willingness to sweat, but now we have some knowledge,” says Fred Domke, president, founder, and volunteer at Bridge Bread, of the partnership with AB Mauri.
Started in 2011, Bridge Bread aims to provide people with a skill and a job in order to help them secure housing. The organization has employed 40 individuals, more than half of whom have remained employed and housed. The bakery’s products are distributed to 60 churches in the St. Louis metro area as well as universities and high schools.
With more knowledge and a partnership with AB Mauri, Bridge Bread has since secured a business partnership with The Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel. Being a customer of the Chase Park Plaza, AB Mauri connected the hotel with the local bakery. The Chase agreed to purchase roughly 30,000 bread items for events and banquets held at the hotel throughout the year.
“Three local organizations coming together to help tackle homelessness is a win-win-win,” says Frederik Houben, director of sales and marketing for The Chase Park Plaza.
Domke was equally excited about the new connection.
“Working together we will give our bakers the opportunity to prove with first-class baked goods that people experiencing homelessness are not ‘throw-away’ people,” he says. “With a little support, they can become valuable contributing members of our community.”
Mark Prendergast, AB Mauri’s president, now serves on the board for Bridge Bread, and finds it particularly rewarding to make an impact locally in AB Mauri’s backyard.
“This is an organization we truly believe in, and to see someone go from homelessness to leading an independent life as an artisanal baker is especially gratifying,” he says.