WILLIAMSTON – Williamston Food Bank Director Jill Cutshaw has witnessed her community’s generosity firsthand for 23 years.
Residents, businesses and local churches have a long history of making significant monetary donations to the nonprofit, which serves about 60 families per month.
But the continual monthly donations from In KinD Bakery, where every tip collected since it opened in February 2021 goes to the food bank, is unique, Cutshaw said.
It’s the first time any business has made monthly donations to the nonprofit part of its operational plan, she said.
When Daisy Chang and Kimberly Scott, In KinD Bakery’s owners, approached Cutshaw with the idea last winter it took her by surprise.
“There are lots of ideas for fundraisers, but this was the first time that we’ve ever had somebody use a tip jar to collect ongoing tips for us,” she said.
More than a year later, the bakery has donated just over $3,500 and nearly 1,300 individual baked goods to the local food bank.
As food prices rise, the money has become a welcome supplement, and a constant source of funds, helping the food bank’s volunteers pay for fresh fruit, vegetables and other nutritional items they can’t always get from the Greater Lansing Food Bank, Cutshaw said.
“It’s wonderful,” she said.
When Chang and Scott, close friends who both maintain separate full-time jobs, opened In KinD Bakery in a 1,800-square-foot space at 146 W. Grand River Ave., they had two goals — to feed their passion for baking and to make a philanthropic impact.
“It’s not about making a profit,” Scott, 41, said.
More than 14 months into the venture, the bakery has yet to break even. Chang and Scott aren’t worried. It takes a few years for most small businesses to turn a profit, they said. Meanwhile, their bakery has helped them meet both of their goals.
The East Lansing residents spend three days a week making pastries, cookies, mousse cakes, tartlets and other treats.
And customers help them meet the other goal, sometimes stuffing as much as $25 into the tip jar marked for the food bank.
They know why people are tipping so much, Scott said.
“I don’t see us getting $20 bucks for a $1.75 cookie order,” she said.
In KinD Bakery donates everything given to the food bank once a month. Leftover baked goods are donated at the end of every weekend.
Both donations are making an impact with food bank clients, Cutshaw said, nearly half of whom are senior citizens.
“One of the really special things for me is that we are able to provide some of these special baked goods to our shut-ins, who, other than that, would never have a chance to try In KinD Bakery,” Cutshaw said.
The monthly checks, which are often $200 or more, are used to buy fresh food the food bank has trouble getting free of charge including carrots, grapes, potatoes and bananas, she said, and personal products like shampoo and deodorant.
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No one knows better than Cutshaw the impact rising prices can have on a budget.
“Believe me, nobody’s been more shocked than I am, because I’m the one that does most of the large purchasing,” she said.
In KinD Bakery’s monthly donations have made it possible for the food bank to afford everything it needs to feed clients.
“It’s just nice to know that we have that check coming in from In KinD that kind of buffers our budget to the new prices,” Cutshaw said.
The donated baked goods become part of every food bundle volunteers pack, she said.
“I would like to think we are making somebody happy when they get that muffin or coffee cake,” Chang, 44, said. “That it’s something a little different, something a little unusual that’s not every day.”
Chang and Scott bought the building their bakery occupies in January this year. On days when they aren’t using it, they are renting the commercial kitchen to food producers in need of a space to make the items they sell at farmers’ markets.
Giving back will remain a part of their business plan, Change and Scott said.
“That will always be part of it,” Chang said. “The goal is really to find a way to give back to the community.”
Contact Rachel Greco at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ .
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