Winnipeg bakery's pay-it-forward program puts bread in hands of those who can't afford it

Bulletin board

A man walks into Eadha Bread in Winnipeg's West End, where he pulls a grey post-it note from a bulletin board and places it down next to the register. Staff hand him some fresh-baked goods and he heads out.

That customer, who visited the shop Thursday morning, joined the people who are making use of a pay-it-forward voucher program that's been running at the Ellice Avenue sourdough bakery since August.

 

Customers who buy products can also pre-purchase vouchers that patrons who couldn't otherwise afford items then exchange for baked goods.

"The voucher program allows for everybody to access the products that we're sellin," said Eadha owner Cora Wiens.

In May 2018, Wiens opened the small shop, which she says is the only bakery in Winnipeg to exclusively sell fermented sourdough culture products, including cookies and cakes.

Wiens and the people she employs share similar values, and those values are displayed prominently in the store. A rainbow flag hangs in the window, and there are several signs on the walls explaining the shop is a safe space where discriminatory views won't be tolerated. 

"We're explicitly queer, anti-racist and decolonial in the bakery," said Wiens. "Those are politics I identify with personally and the bakery is an opportunity for my politics and the politics of people who work here to be amplified."

Those politics also include a desire to build community in the West End, and help out those in the neighbourhood who are struggling financially.

The program has only been up and running since last month, but Wiens said several times every day, customers either pay for vouchers or use them for food.

"People are very on board for the whole thing, so we have, regularly, vouchers going up, vouchers coming down, and everybody who talks to us about it is really, really happy to have the opportunity to participate," said Wiens.

"The response has been largely, 'What a great idea. I am surprised we haven't thought about this before.'"

(Story from CBC)