Healthy Food, Healing Work: My employer invests in people, health and second chances
Two women, Stephanie Wright and Tricia Sabatini came up with an idea that was needed badly for women re-entering into society who lack skills for the workforce. They also realized that women often have low self-esteem even if they do have more skills than most women who have higher self-esteem. Sabatini and Wright came up with a micro baking business located at Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.
The program has three sessions per year, each lasting for eight weeks in which the women learn about food production, food safety education, product packaging, delivery and customer service. One goal of the program is to prepare enrollees to be certified as ServSafe Food Protection Managers. They also have a personal development curriculum that helps women to gain self-awareness and self-esteem, encourages responsibility and accountability and develops communication and decision-making skills.
The developed skills are transferable to all industries, not limited to food service. Once the women graduate from the eight-week training program they will be able to find employment of their choice based on passion or interests.
Most of my loyal customers are aware that I used to work for Fruitcycle, a local snack company founded by Elizabeth Bennett that provides jobs to disadvantaged women. In January 2016 Fruitcycle began a partnership with Together We Bake. One or two days out of the week I do demos for Together We Bake and Fruitcycle at the Whole Foods Market on P street NW, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Together We Bake has two products, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cinnamon Pecan Granola. As the demo specialist I pass out the Cinnamon Pecan Granola; children love the taste and adults do, too. Plus it’s for a good cause, because when a customer buys a bag of Cinnamon Pecan Granola, all the proceeds go to the training program.
The co-founders and employees of Together We Bake were invited to the White House as “Champions of Change” in April to speak about the eight-week training program that gives women a second chance.
82 percent of the women enrolled complete Together We Bake’s program. 90 percent of the women who complete the program pass the ServSafe exam, 60 percent gain employment and 100 percent are empowered!