Leah Lonsbury based non-profit Simply Bakery in 2017 as a spot for resettled refugees in metro Atlanta to obtain paid job coaching with a residing wage. The bakery provides displaced folks pressured to flee their residence nations a chance to construct new abilities and earn skilled certifications, like ServSafe, to assist present long-term, financial safety whereas reestablishing themselves in America. The foot within the door might be transformative for the bakers-in-training, lots of whom have fled violence or battle in nations just like the Central African Republic, Congo, Pakistan, and Syria.
Lonsbury moved to Atlanta from Madison, Wisconsin, the place a good friend had created a program for previously incarcerated folks not too long ago launched from jail. This system utilized {the marketplace}, providing people an opportunity to study new abilities and assist reestablish their lives after jail. She was impressed. Utilizing a small grant from Oakhurst Baptist, the place she attends church, Lonsbury tweaked the idea, tailoring it to the refugee expertise in Atlanta.
“We begin folks at $15 per hour, which I don’t know of anyplace else in Atlanta you possibly can are available with no highschool diploma and receives a commission to coach and work in a means that’s paying off, actually,” says Lonsbury. “Our people are buying houses and a second automotive to allow them to get to and from work independently and safely throughout the pandemic, and beginning greater training. If people can have entry to incomes a residing wage, then every little thing else begins to fall into place.”
Some Simply Bakery workers members have come to the US lately, whereas others arrived as kids and bear in mind little or no of their homeland. Meals turns into the connection.

A current workers photoAndrew Hetherington

Simply Bakery operates from a licensed business kitchen outdoors of town of Clarkston, east of Atlanta, and sells its baked items by means of pop-ups, deliveries, and neighborhood drop-offs. Utilizing as many native and sustainable substances as potential from Georgia growers and companies, like pecans from New Floor Orchards and occasional from Clarkston-based Refuge Espresso Co., a lot of the bakery’s standard gadgets are thought of American baking classics, reminiscent of darkish chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, multi-grain bread, blueberry muffins, and cinnamon rolls.
However, the bakers usually incorporate substances and recipes from their very own backgrounds. Head baker Bhima Thapa took inspiration from her residence nation of Nepal with the jeera cookie, a barely candy, spiced shortbread. The peanut butter curry cookies are flavored with hints of ginger. The peanut is native to the cuisines of a number of Simply Bakery bakers. Then there’s the plantain-based banana bread, which was bought to have fun bakers from Africa for Giving Tuesday final yr.
“Meals is the connector of human beings, and a chance to know one another and crawl throughout perceived or actual variations,” says Lonsbury. “I want extra folks knew about us and we had entry to extra folks, as a result of I believe we’ve bought a extremely superb factor going due to the superb people that come to work with us.”

Cinnamon rolls Andrew Hetherington

Cheddar scallion sconesAndrew Hetherington

There was a bump in gross sales at the start of the pandemic, however Lonsbury says gross sales are down. Operating a non-profit bakery all through the well being disaster has been troublesome, particularly in protecting payroll. Now with COVID-19 vaccines broadly accessible and other people starting to enterprise out extra, she hopes enterprise will even start to return. She credit native organizations and the Atlanta neighborhood at-large for constantly supporting Simply Bakery and permitting it to develop right into a refugee-led group.
They’re now working to open a storefront, a spot to assemble the neighborhood and broaden Simply Bakery’s coaching program so it may well have a fair better impression.
”We now have been so fortunate, and the ways in which doorways have opened locally. It’s like this wanted to occur,” she says. “Individuals have mentioned ‘sure’ and been so beneficiant on the proper time, just like the congregation letting us come bake totally free.”
“It’s now a nonprofit, refugee-led group, and we have now companions doing unbelievable work throughout us. We’re wealthy in folks and expertise and assets.”
Individuals can pre-order for pickup or supply by way of the Simply Bakery web site. Simply Bakery at the moment delivers to Atlanta (contained in the perimeter), Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Decatur, Pine Lake, Stone Mountain, and Tucker. The bakery additionally sells its baked items on Saturday mornings on the Oakhurst Farmers Market in Decatur.

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