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Topic: Breadmaking classes for domestic violence shelters  (Read 1295 times)
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« on: June 20, 2005 03:37:00 PM »

Hi all. I recently read "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book." It contains fabulous, comprehensive information about whole grain baking and sustainable living that has been an inspiration to me. If you haven't read it (and you may not have -- it's kind of obscure and from the early 1980s), the authors talk a lot about breadmaking and other home cooking as not only a means to a meal, but a philosophy of creating your own food out of local, simple ingredients that anyone in the world could use (linked to world hunger issues, sustainability, vegetarianism, etc.). She goes on a lot about kneading bread as a form of therapeutic quiet-time that also lets you chat with friends and family while getting something done, watching it grow.

Anyway, I was thinking about such things, and came up with this possibly hair-brained idea of teaching simple breadmaking classes at domestic violence shelters. I've worked with DV tangentially (mostly grunt-work, nothing with the clients themselves), and I know they keep the clients pretty busy while they're at the shelters, what with the classes and group therapy and having a job and getting to the job without a car and taking care of the kids, etc. etc. They hardly have time to fit breadmaking into the schedule. On the other hand, it might be fun, like a craft, or a good-smelling diversion you can eat, that is quite cheap and something kids can learn as well. A confidence builder -- it's hard to mess up bread if you do it right, and it's so freakin' tasty fresh out of the oven. Surprise! You're a bread baker.

So, two questions:

a) Have you heard of this being done before? If you have, let me know. Precedent = good.

b) Does it sound like a project that's worth the time and effort to get it off the ground? Of course I would say yes because bread is my current obsession, but I would like your honest opinions. If you were at a shelter, would you want to spend an evening to learn how to make bread from scratch, or would you think it was a waste of time? Be brutally candid -- I can take it.

Of course, take into account that I'd prod a friend into volunteering to babysit while the moms are learning. Free childcare, always an incentive.  Wink Also, I was thinking they could walk away with a loaf of bread and a jar of baker's yeast I order in large quantities -- it's so expensive in the individual packets, but ridiculously cheap in bulk.
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2005 10:18:23 PM »

That is an awesome idea! I would just call around--non profits always need dedicated people. It seems to me that you could teach bread making to a wide range of people--not just women who have suffered domestic violence. Check around at local charities and see if any have cooking classes already--youth shelters, low income groups, organic/local supporting institutions. Good luck!!! I may have to do this someday myself. Smiley


« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2005 10:27:00 AM »

That is a really great idea. I'm thinking the only problem you may come across is, as per usual, funding. I'm sure the shelters probably aren't running on a whole lot of money, so if you could come up with a way to keep expenses really down, then I think you'll have a lot of success.

I think that it would be rather a therapeutic thing to have at any shelter.

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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2005 03:06:33 PM »

I think it's a good idea because it would definitely build confidence.  I tihnk it's important for people in domestic violence situations to feel in control of something, and have something to be proud of, I definitely think this would be it.  Also, it would be a nice activity to look forward to in a shelter that they may not enjoy being in.

« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2005 08:00:24 AM »

Hi, bbonn.  I've worked in a DV shelter for about 5 years, in several capacities.  I like your idea.  It's been my experience that shelter residents eat mostly pre-packaged food as they have been living on little or nothing for a long time and may not have had working kitchens.   Most don't know how to cook at all except for microwaving frozen dinners and vegetables.  Someone already mentioned funding.  Most probably, you'd have to provide any funding on your own through donors.  Shelters probably won't have any funds.  You will have to think about kitchen equipment; you may have to provide bread pans, etc.  You might think about doing lessons for one or two residents.  In our shelter, residents do not have access to the kitchen; there are staff people who cook and serve.  Check out your local shelter, though, many shelters do have residents take turns cooking and they have access to the kitchen.  You're right about people being busy.  Also, at least in our shelter, we have many immigrant clients who do know how to cook; they could be great cooking assistants/co-instructors.  That would be a great self-esteem builder for them.  Our shelter, also, administers transitional living apartments.  These residents have their own kitchens and usually are working and/or in school.  Bread making lessons for this group might be a great idea. 

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