Mindy Salzberg-Siegel, BarbaraWallace and Denise Kalt
For a certain group of people, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were counted by the loaves of bread they baked. From banana bread to sourdough, the comforts of baking combined with the need to eat all meals and snacks at home lead to a bread baking boom. Mindy Salzberg-Siegel of Birmingham, Barbara Wallace of Huntington Woods and Denise Kalt, Franklin, took it a step further by signing up for online baking classes from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, where they quickly found themselves with more loaves of bread than they or their family could reasonably consume. At the same time, news stories abounded about those experiencing food insecurity, with people lined up at food pantries around the country.
The women started researching area food pantries as a way to share their fresh baked goods with those in need, but many required special licensing, certifications, and the use of commercial kitchens. Salzberg-Siegel saw a segment on the Today show that featured women in Seattle who had formed a grassroots organization that provided food banks with fresh bread, and she reached out about bringing that organization to metro Detroit. When she struggled to connect with them, she, along with Wallace and Kalt, decided to do it themselves, forming Kneaded with Love.
The women made their first bread deliveries in March 2021, and since then, Kneaded with Love has grown a volunteer network of nearly 60 women who bake between 30 and 90 loaves of bread each month for two local food pantries. Two Fridays per month, volunteers, most of whom, thus far, are women in their 50s and 60s, bake two loaves of bread and deliver them to one of the women’s homes. On Saturdays, they deliver the bread to Open Hands Food Pantry & Garden in Royal Oak and the Second New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Ferndale. Describes Salzberg-Siegel of the reception, “There’s a huge need. They’re asking for our bread. They can’t believe people are baking for them.”
One thing that was imperative for the women was that their bread was healthy and nutritious.
“There’s so much whole grain wheat in the recipe that you can make a sandwich, and I’m never full ever, and I eat a sandwich and I’m full for hours after,” notes Salzberg-Siegel, who found different honey whole wheat bread recipes online and then tweaked the recipe so that bakers could bake two loaves of bread at once. She also made sure that the recipe provided consistent results so that “people could repeat it.”
Kneaded with Love aims to keep the entire process as simple for the bakers as possible, said Kalt, who, prior to the pandemic, had never baked bread aside from an occasional loaf of challah.
“There’s a sign-up sheet where you commit to baking bread on a certain date. There’s a video of Mindy baking the bread. If you like to cook and bake, watch the video and I’m sure 99 percent of people will be successful,” said Kalt.
The women hope that Kneaded with Love will soon be able to provide bread beyond the current two Saturdays a month.
“We are hoping that come fall and winter, we can double the amount of bakers. It’s really a fun thing, and it’s a nice thing to do for our community,” said Kalt. “It really doesn’t take that much effort to bake two loaves of bread a month.”
Story: Hillary Brody Anchill
Photo: Laurie Tennent