A bakery intended to provide job training and fresh, healthy bread for both locals and food pantries across Montana is preparing to open in Livingston later this month.
With only a few weeks before the Livingston Community Bakery opens, people are carrying in boxes, prepping a wall for paint and testing out the new equipment.
Head baker Denny Earnest opens the oven door to slide in some dough.
“This is the German rye that’s been levened for two days. There’s no yeast. It kind of looks like a cow pie right now but in about ten minutes it’s going to rise up in the center,” Earnest said.
The bakery is an extension of the Livingston Food Resource Center down the street. The non-profit organization aims to provide people in need with fresh, healthy food and opportunities in culinary education and economic development.
Executive Director Michael McCormick says the resource center serves about 700 people, which is around 10 percent of Livingston’s population.
“You don’t help people get out of poverty by serving ultra-processed food that’s just going to make people sick,” McCormick said.
McCormick says the goal of the bakery is to provide free artisan bread to any food pantry in the state that wants it. Quality Food Distributors, a Bozeman based company, will transport the bread pro bono and production costs will be covered by commercial sales in Livingston.
“We’re going to be baking wonderful baguettes, artisan breads, everything from sourdough rye to Kamut whole wheat, you name it,” McCormick said.
He says the bread will be made with Montana grain.
The Livingston Food Resource Center isn’t new to baking. For the last several years the center baked about 150 loaves a week in its commercial kitchen to stock its own food pantry and the hospital.
But with the new, bigger bakery, the organization can more than triple the number of loaves it bakes each week and provide two apprenticeships for people who may not have marketable job skills.
“We’re teaching people a trade, we’re creating a new market for Montana farmers who are growing wheat and grains, and we’re feeding people in ways that’s truly nutritious and will help them be well. So we cover a lot of bases when we do a project like this,” McCormick said.
The non-profit Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) which works in Gallatin, Park and Meagher counties owns the space. McCormick says Livingston Food Resource Center just had to raise the $110,000 to pay for the equipment.
McCormick says the community is excited to have a local bakery again.
“If everybody who has told me, I’m going to be the first in line, if they all show up, we’re going to have a crowd scene out here on 2nd street that will stop traffic,” McCormick said.
McCormick expects the bakery will be ready to open in two to three weeks.