Bread for All: Jen Jensen (Pastry, ‘04)
Like many chefs, Jen Jensen felt the immediate impact of the coronavirus as a call to arms: “I was passionate about helping feed the legions of people who lost their jobs and were suffering,” she says. “As I searched for a way to help, it became clear to me that if I stuck to what I was good at, I could find a way.”
Good at managing an ambitious baking regimen in her own kitchen, the Pastry Arts graduate operates a specialty cake business called Frosting n’ Glaze at her home in Hartford, Connecticut. While home cooks were making their first attempts at sourdough, Jen reported that she was “baking everything I could think of, especially bread.”
When a friend mentioned that a local community kitchen was still operating during the pandemic shutdown to provide meals to families in need, Jen knew that her efforts could be of use: “I reached out to the director of the program and on April 15, I donated 70 loaves of bread to feed families.” Jen continued to find other community programs that could benefit from her baking, eventually asking friends and family for help so she could keep funding supplies.
What began solely as an act of charity gained so much momentum and support from her community that Jen eventually coined her program “Bread for All” — for every loaf someone purchases from her, she makes one to donate on their behalf, a program she intends to keep up for as long as there’s a need. Someone who knew Jen through her teaching at Sur La Table wrote to King Arthur Flour about the program, and the company responded by sending Jen additional supplies. Throughout the spring and early summer, she made upwards of 750 loaves of bread to give to Hartford community programs, including Waste Not Want Not Kitchen, Night Angels, Fern Street Food Ministry’s Backpack Program and Bloomfield Community Kitchen.
“I do have concerns that as things ‘go back to normal’ people will assume the food insecurities have declined and there is no longer a need for food programs,” she says. “In reality, they need donations more than ever. My goal is to open a bakery where I can keep the same concept going: buy one, donate one. I would love to run a business that is truly part of my community, that helps my community the only way I know how to. By feeding them.”