Gerry Betz pulls the finished loaves from the oven Saturday morning at his home in Everett. Betz is the Community Loaves coordinator of the Everett Hub. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Gerry Betz pulls the finished loaves from the oven Saturday morning at his home in Everett. Betz is the Community Loaves coordinator of the Everett Hub. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Hobbyists and pros bake homemade bread to donate in Everett

Community Loaves delivers the fresh goods to groups helping those who are experiencing food insecurity.

EVERETT — The overwhelming aroma and golden-brown glow of a fresh-baked loaf of honey oat bread is enough to make your mouth water.

In kitchens across Puget Sound, volunteer bakers are cooking up that exact treat but won’t taste a bite. This bread is for people experiencing food insecurity in Snohomish County and beyond.

Community Loaves — founded in April 2020 by Katherine Kehrli— organizes bakers of varying skill levels to make and donate bread twice a month.

Kehrli started the nonprofit with a few pioneer bakers and a desire to help during the pandemic. The first donation was 19 loaves of bread to Hopelink, an organization seeking to mitigate poverty in the Kirkland area.

In less than a year, the network swelled to more than 600 professional and amateur bakers supporting a dozen organizations in Washington and Oregon.

“Although the impact is our primary goal, and that is delivering nutritious bread to the food banks, our vehicle is home bakers and we want to be open and affirming for bakers of all levels,” said Kehrli, who is also the dean of the Seattle Culinary Academy.

A universal recipe, informational training and locally sourced ingredients provide consistency in each batch of bread.

Kehrli hosts virtual classes to coach first-time bakers. She said support is ingrained in the organization.

“The intent is to empower people to be successful at this,” she said.

Gerry Betz rolls bread in oats Saturday morning at his home in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Gerry Betz rolls bread in oats Saturday morning at his home in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Earlier this month, Everett-based nonprofit Housing Hope became the first local beneficiary. Already, more than 100 loaves have been delivered from the Everett group of about 15 volunteers.

Sonia Siegel Vexler, a volunteer baker from Snohomish, proposed donating the bread made by locals to Housing Hope. Before, all bread made in Everett was sent south to support food banks in King County.

Kehrli was quick to hear Vexler’s advice.

“I wanted to bake bread and give it locally, I think we have food insecurity right here in Snohomish County,” Vexler said.

The donations provide fresh bread for Housing Hope’s Kindred Kitchen to serve families living in the HopeWorks community and for the Tomorrow’s Hope program supporting childhood development.

“The bread is wonderful, it smells so good,” said Karen Resing, director of Kindred Kitchen. “It’s just a really great way that these people have come together to try and do something.”

Gerry Betz makes bread Saturday morning at his home in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Gerry Betz makes bread Saturday morning at his home in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Gerry Betz leads Community Loaves’ Everett hub. Along with baking his own loaves to donate, Betz collects the home-cooked delights from other nearby volunteers and delivers the bread to Housing Hope.

Betz said he needed an outlet for his bread-making itch after retiring last summer from a 40-year baking career.

“It feels like you are giving more when you give five loaves of your bread you spent three to four hours making and learning to bake,” he said.

Even as an expert, Betz said the new ingredients, different recipe and limitations of his home kitchen are a challenge.

As baking bread gained popularity in the pandemic, Betz said involvement in Community Loaves also increased. He mentors a half-dozen amateur bakers through the hurdles, but said a phone call or video chat are imperfect for teaching a tactile task like baking.

“It’s like teaching a doctor to do surgery online,” he said.

Bethany Kline is one of the recent converts.

Kline said she grew up in the kitchen and worked at a bakery in college, but had fallen out of the craft. With more time on her hands, she found the hobby again.

Last month, she discovered Community Loaves, as well as the serendipitous connection between her passion and making a difference.

“My desire to bake is greater than the immediate need we have for what we can get through ourselves,” she said. “There’s lots of ways to volunteer, but it’s pretty rare to do something you love and make an impact in the community.”

Horizon Elementary School teacher-librarian Cathy Bierman began doubling as a Community Loaves baker in November. In her job, Bierman said she has watched food insecurity balloon, especially during the pandemic.

“The need is real,” she said. “ … When I saw (Community Loaves) I thought, ‘Wow, this really takes it to the next level for me,’ because it’s not only donating the tangible, but it is the gift of the intangible, my home to your home kind of thing.”

Bierman said the act of service was about the food, but also making sure families in need know that they aren’t forgotten or invisible.

In her own home, Bierman said food is a language of love. By baking four to six loaves every two weeks, she hopes the recipients will feel a similar connection.

“To me it brings together all the pieces of volunteering and trying to find where you can make your own little, tiny, grain-of-sand difference in all this,” she said.

For more information about how to join or support Community Loaves visit communityloaves.org.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arlington
Arlington woman dies in crash on Highway 530

The Washington State Patrol says a Stanwood man ran a red light, striking Zoey Ensey as she turned onto the highway.

FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as "a random event" that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, File)
Monkeypox case count rises to 6 in Snohomish County

Meanwhile, cases in the state have roughly doubled every week. Most of those have been in neighboring King County.

Farmer Frog employees sort through a pallet of lettuce at their new location on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Farmer Frog’s new pad, nonprofit helps feed 1.5M Washingtonians

The emergency food distribution network began amid the pandemic. Demand was high — so high, the truck volume led them to move.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish County, cities announce $9.6M for mental health, shelter

Projects span from Edmonds to Sultan. Each city is using American Rescue Plan Act money, with the county contributing, too.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Suspect in custody after man’s gunshot death, standoff

Deputies responded to a domestic violence call and found the suspect barricaded on the property near Snohomish.

Two students walk along a path through campus Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. The college’s youth-reengagement program has lost its funding, and around 150 students are now without the money they need to attend classes. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monroe nixes college program, leaving 150-plus students in the lurch

For years, the Monroe School District footed the bill for “U3” students, who have gotten mixed messages about why that’s ending.

Desiree Gott looks over documents before her sentencing Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Driver gets over 2 years in death of motorcyclist in Everett

In May, Desiree Gott was turning into the BECU on Evergreen Way when she crashed into Matthew Japhet, 34. She had taken meth.

A frame from video taken by a nearby security camera shows a Bothell police officer (right) shooting a man who allegedly charged him with a knife. (Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team) 20210128
Prosecutor declines charges in fatal Bothell police shooting

An officer shot Juan Rene Hummel, 25, five times in 2020, when Hummel charged at the officer with a knife in his hand.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man dead in shooting near Startup antique store

The man in his 30s was shot before noon Saturday. A man in his early 20s was in custody.

Most Read