Just Bakery is a 16 week educational and vocational training program. The program works with individuals who are experiencing significant barriers to employment (homelessness, criminal conviction history, lack of education, and/or a lack of work history or skills) and who have an interest in baking or culinary arts as a career pathway.
Just Bakery utilizes a curriculum developed in collaboration with faculty from Madison College’s Baking and Culinary Arts programs. Just Bakery offers Life Skills education, baking math and tutoring, food science, food safety and ServSafe Certification, and teaches commercial baking skills in a commercial grade kitchen with students actually helping to produce a line of bakery products for sale in the community. Students also gain sales and marketing experience by working side by side with program staff in a variety of sales venues, learning customer service skills and becoming comfortable answering questions about the product. All proceeds from Just Bakery sales are reinvested in the program and have allowed us to hire four of our own graduates to work in the program both on the instructional side and the production side of the program.
Program graduates can also take an exam to earn a Certificate of Training from the WI Baker’s Association and through an agreement with Madison College, students can earn college credit.
In addition to their coursework, students also receive case management and assistance with job placement and retention, and job coaching.
Anthony started the Just Bakery program in October, 2014. Newly released from prison he was living in a transitional living program for individuals classified as sex offenders, thereby adding to the barriers he faced to successful reintegration into the community. Anthony had already been revoked once for a rules violation so when he applied for participation in Just Bakery our Program Coordinator immediately met with his parole agent to discuss the program, the class schedule and to help the Agent understand the goals of the program. Anthony’s agent ok’d his participation in Just Bakery and his Agent worked with the Just Bakery team to plan meetings with Anthony outside of regular class hours.
While he had been incarcerated Anthony had received some training in food service and was very interested in pursuing a career in food service. Anthony was a motivated, committed student who quickly absorbed information and was willing to work to excel. Anthony also assisted other students with their work. Anthony took his ServSafe certification exam and passed with a 96%. Once he began the commercial kitchen training portion of the program Anthony emerged as a leader in the class, catching on quickly to production methods and proper use of the kitchen equipment. In late November 2014, the Just Bakery Program Coordinator was approached by the Outreach Director at an area church, they were looking for a volunteer chef to plan, coordinate and prepare their Christmas day community meal for over 400 people. Anthony jumped at the chance and worked diligently planning the menu, coordinating the team of 40 volunteers, preparing food. Anthony donated over 40 hours of his time to help with the meal.
Anthony successfully graduated from Just Bakery and obtained a training certificate from the WI Baker’s Association. He found a full-time job at an upscale restaurant at $14.00 per hour. Anthony also decided to get a part-time job to earn extra money for an apartment. Anthony spent time volunteering with Just Bakery, helping other students become successful. In the summer of 2015 Anthony was released from supervision with the Department of Corrections. He now lives and works in another part of the state and is doing well.
To order baked goods from Just Bakery click here