Madison Area Urban Ministry launched Just Bakery in 2014. Just Bakery is an employment training program that also hires people with barriers to employment. They work with people who are currently or formerly incarcerated, on probation or parole, going through homelessness, trauma or substance use disorders, or those without GED’s. Just Bakery trains 48-60 people per year. Labor Radio caught up with Program Director Carmella Glenn.
“Most of our students that I’ve hired are ones that are excellent workers but need some extra support. We are really trying to change the way employment is for people, too, that you can have a place where if you’re having a hard day, or a mental health day, you know, my boss Linda Ketchum designed our company to be a place where that if it’s mental health day you need, you get it. And we get paid time off for part-time people even. We have a 15 dollar minimum wage, starting rate for our staff. We’re really trying to do the right thing. It is an amazing place. It’s amazing to work for.”
Just Bakery utilizes a Manage First curriculum, which allows people to earn up to 12 credits and gain automatic acceptance to Madison college culinary program. This is funded through grants and the bakery sales pay people’s wages. Madison Urban Ministry publicly opposes the placement of F-35 jets at Truax because of the disparate impact on communities of color and low-income housing.
“We ran into some business dealings this last two weeks. It’s just really unfortunate that our kind of political climate where an entity, the chamber, would choose not to support a program helping people that are experiencing significant barriers. We came up with a product that she liked, we met at a price point that we liked and could handle and she said we’ll go with that but i need to just get final approval and then I received an email that basically just said that they couldn’t go forward due to some of the needs of their constituents or their members and due to our stance on the F-35s that they were going to bow out. We took a substantial hit because of that, like a $4000 order…” The Madison Chamber of Commerce has yet to respond to Labor Radio. Meanwhile, Carmella offers these ideas for anyone interested in showing solidarity.
“It’s Valentine’s Day I just posted on our Just bakery Madison [dot] org page, our Valentine’s basket. We use really high end product. We have won taste of Madison. Order from us. Order some of our stuff. We have danishes, muffins, quick breads, pies. We can do catering events for office and business meetings. We have our own coffee through Just Coffee Cooperative, so we can do it all for people…. so just supporting us the way we support the voices of the people that we work with that don’t have a voice at the table. ”
(Photo from Sophkins on Pixabay)