Editor’s Note: Ben & Jerry’s provided transportation for the tour and free brownies. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if it would help this wonderful bakery support their community.
Have you heard of Greyston Bakery yet? I heard of them a few years ago when they were profiled on 60 minutes, and it had always been a dream of mine to go and visit. The founder originally worked at NASA, but wanted to help the homeless and hire them to help themselves, or as they put it, “we bake brownies to hire people.” Here’s the rest of the story:
Some Greyston bullet points:
- One of the first examples of social entrepreneurship
- They provide long-term supportive housing with caseworkers on-site
- For-profit bakery but profits support nonprofit purposes
- 26 years old
- Support multiple community gardens
- Tons of partners w/ other organizations, including Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation
- Greyston makes over 11,000 lbs of brownies each day just for Ben & Jerry’s
- Roughly 130 employees
- They have an open hiring policy; walk in, put your name on list, opportunities given to all! “It’s all about where you are now and where you want to go, you can have a job but you have to work.” Great turnover problem as employees improve their lives and move up to other opportunities.
- Their motto is “Anyone deserves the chance to work.”
- Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream was created by accident when brownies shipped from Greystone’s clumped together. Apparently it was serendipity calling as this flavor is consistently one of their top 12 flavors.
- Greyston’s has a double bottom line – both the business and nonprofit missions must be fulfilled.
- The designer that designed the Vietnam Memorial designed the new Greystone factory.
- 25,000 lbs, or an entire tractor trailer, of brownies goes out Greyston’s door each day.
Most had prison records, some had sold drugs. One said he had been here 20 months and then started to cry because he was also counting the months down until his baby would be born. Some quotes from the employees:
- “Greyston has opened up a lot of doors for me and I want to retire from here.”
- “Greyston saved my life and showed me I had to be a man.”
- “Greystone is building and saving lives.”
- “I didn’t miss a day’s work when I was selling on the streets so I don’t miss one here.”
- “They keep it real.”
And of course, the brownies are fantastic. The chocolate fudge brownie is two-fold textured: chewy on top and fudgy on bottom. The blondie is similar except a little sweeter and definitely my favorite because I’m not sure I’ve had anything like it before. In fact, it was so good, while originally I had planned to bring extra brownies to work but after trying one I refused. I selfishly enjoyed every morsel, made sure to tell everyone about it, consequently felt guilty, and bought a couple DoGoodie brownie boxes for fellow employees and relatives during the holidays:
|Me and my blondies. I decorated these all by myself.|
|I’m the tall one on the right.|
I can’t stress how wonderful Greyston Bakery was and the impact that they are having on revitalizing both their employees and community. Please help spread the word about Greyston’s Bakery and pick up some yummy brownies!