Local bakery pitches in during the pandemic, two bread loaves at a time
Jun 29, 2020 11:19AM
By Carl Fauver
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Those were among the wise words of advice Fred Rogers offered his preschool-age television audience on his long-running PBS program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” And they are the same words the Borg family has included on the message of hope they have been putting on the plastic bags they’re using to seal and donate loaves of bread, two at a time.
The Borgs own and operate Schmidt’s Pastry Cottage stores in three Salt Lake Valley locations, including South Jordan. For three months, they have been donating bread to anyone who asks for it.
“My mom would kill me if she saw the numbers; we are inching toward 50,000 loaves of bread (given away)—which normally cost $2 to $3,” said Brett Borg. “We are accepting donations for the bread, but are only spending that money on ingredients. Our stores are covering employee costs.”
Brett’s parents, Steve and Lucy Borg, own Schmidt’s stores in Taylorsville, Sugar House and South Jordan. Their Crossroads of Taylorsville shopping location (5664 S. Redwood Road) has been open the longest of the three, since the “mid-1980s.” Chelsea Pacheco is that store’s assistant manager.
“Our manager will be out until mid-July so, for now, I am our only full-time employee at this location, along with about 10 part-timers,” Pacheco said. “We make about 180 loaves of the free bread each day. Sometimes there are a few loaves left over the next day, but most of the time it all goes. Some people make donations; some people buy other things while getting their free bread; and some just grab their two loaves and go, which is fine.”
So why are the sourdough, French and Italian loaves given in pairs?
“My dad said if we only give one loaf of bread, then we are the only people who get to feel good about helping during this [pandemic] crisis,” Brett said. “But if we give two loaves and tell people one is for them, and one is to give to another person then others also get to feel good about what they are doing.”
The bread giveaway has also allowed the Borgs to retain their entire 45-person staff (at all three locations), without any reduction of work hours. A Paycheck Protection Program PPP loan also assisted the Borgs in covering a couple of pay periods.
“I have heard many emotional stories from our customers who are giving bread to others,” Pacheco said. “It makes me feel so good to work for Schmidt’s. Steve [Borg] is just a really great guy.”
In addition to the in-store bread giveaways, Schmidt’s has also taken their show on the road a couple of times.
“On May 17, we gave away 900 loaves of bread outside Cyprus High School in Magna, and two weeks later we gave out another 650 loaves at Kearns High,” Brett said. “Several members of our family were involved, particularly in that second giveaway.”
In addition to both his parents still working full time for the stores, Brett’s wife, Jenny, is a cake decorator for them. His twin sister, April, also works for Schmidt’s, along with a younger sister (Kristi), an uncle (Ralph), and nieces and nephews.
The stores’ flour providers—Ardent Mills and Honeyville—have each donated about 5,000 pounds of flour to the bread giveaway effort.
In addition to accepting cash donations for their bread giveaways at their store locations, Schmidt’s is also accepting online donations through the mobile payment service Venmo.
“Some of our tweets about the bread giveaways have been retweeted, even by national journalists,” Brett said. “We have received about $4,000 in Venmo donations from all over—New York, Florida, Canada. Another $2,000 to $3,000 have been dropped off at our stores.”
As Fred Rogers’ mother would be quick to tell the former TV host, that’s a lot of “people who are helping.”