Madison-area Urban Ministry’s “Just Bakery” is a vocational and employment training program specifically designed to meet the needs of men and women returning to the community after incarceration. The program provides classroom and hands on vocational training for men and women interested in food services careers. The three month program has four modules: 1) job readiness/life skills; 2) baking products and methods; 3) baking production; and 4) job internship/placement and mentoring. Participants who complete the program will be eligible to take an exam with the WI Baker’s Association to obtain special training certification from the WBA. In addition,  participants will receive instruction in ServSafe Certification and assisted in taking the exam.

The program is an entrepreneurial endeavor. Students are engaged in creating a line of  breads for sale in the community, with proceeds used to support the program. Students  assist in the creation of the product, as well as its marketing and sales. Additional supportive services include job mentoring to further enhance and strengthen the participant’s skill set, and ongoing case management to ensure the individual’s other needs are being addressed.  Just Bakery will also, to the extent possible, hire successful program participants to work in the program.

Each year approximately 1,700 men and women return to Dane County from jail or prison. Annually 400-500 of them will come to Madison-area Urban Ministry for support in rebuilding their lives. Eighty percent of these men and women are homeless and unemployed when they walk through our doors. Unfortunately, a number of existing job training programs either do not serve, or limit the number of homeless individuals they accept into their programs. Research in the criminal justice field identifies housing and employment as critical to successful reintegration. Without employment, the barriers to housing are exacerbated.  MUM currently works with formerly incarcerated individuals to assist them in addressing the barriers to successful reintegration. We also work with area employers to create job opportunities and with landlords to open doors to housing. “Just Bakery” allows us to expand the vocational and employment options for formerly incarcerated individuals. Just Bakery is a collaborative effort. MUM staff John Miller, himself formerly incarcerated and holding a degree in Food Services is the lead program instructor. Classes are held at two locations, in the kitchen of Lakeview Lutheran Church and in the FEED Kitchens on Madison’s North side.

The program works with the Food Business Incubator Project (FEED Kitchen) on the north side of Madison utilizing the training kitchen as well as the commercial kitchen for production. Additional collaborating partners include Madison College’s Pastry and Baking program and Martee Mikalson with Kessinich’s Restaurant Supply Ltd.

Just Bakery offers classroom work in life skills, math, recipe conversion, baking techniques, understanding ingredients and their interactions and actual hands on training in the newly built food incubator kitchen on Sherman Ave. 

Program goals include: 1) 70% of students enrolled in the program will complete the training program and receive a certificate; 2) 70% of those completing the program will obtain at least half-time employment; 3) 80% of those completing the program will not reoffend or be reincarcerated.

Participants of the MUM Just Bakery
Training Program