The Crossroads Bread Project
As South Africa buckles under the weight of a global crisis that has laid waste to lives and livelihoods, as hunger and hardship have haunted this land, something remarkable has happened: people have come together to bake bread. A collective of corporates, churches, communities and concerned individuals have pooled their power in a project that is set to fill bellies and change lives.
The Crossroads Bread Project was inspired by medieval bake houses and village bakeries, where an artisan – who had learnt his trade from generations past – would proudly preside over the ritual of bread-making; where women would gather to gossip and exchange news; where children would pilfer piping hot crusts off the bakery floor and be mentored by a master baker in the ancient art of bread-making. Bread brings people together.
Bread is practically as old as humanity itself and is woven into the fabric of everything that makes us truly human. It is an absolute universal, spanning every socio-economic group, and ranging across every continent on the planet. Bread is biblical and divine, but also daily and familiar. And it speaks a language that everyone understands.
So, when Johan Stapelberg, Leon de Bruin and Christo Jansen, logisticians and technicians, bakers and builders, church managers and community members gathered around a prototype wood-burning oven that was to be launched across South Africa, it was a powerful sight.
To integrate poverty alleviation, feeding schemes and church projects into one accessible, sustainable programme, with benefits that spread far beyond the glow of that fragrant oven.
To empower churches and their communities to provide their congregations with fresh-baked bread at a fraction of the retail price; to enable churches to either donate that bread to those battling to stave off hunger, or to make a profit off the loaves to plough back into other community outreach projects. Crossroads Bread Project is designed to be feasible and sustainable, to ensure longevity for the churches and communities. Hence, the My Product System was adopted to enable management information systems for this specific purpose.
By installing brick and mortar ovens at churches and NGO’s across South Africa, and providing the bread mix, training, and support needed to transform church personnel and community members into seasoned artisanal bakers, and by extension, into profitable business owners. The setup cost of the oven was designed and is subsidised at a fraction of a cost of a market-related oven to make the entry level affordable.