Ministry Raising Dough for Haitian Bakers

If you teach a man to bake, he’ll have bread for life. For husband and wife team Rick and Debbi Sands, this philosophy is part of the ingredients for their new mission to help feed the hungry in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

The Sandses, who own the Great Harvest Bread Co. in Stow, Ohio, have bread in their blood. But Rick said last year he felt like God was calling them to build a bakery in a third world country. He wrote in a blog post, “I have always had a heart for world hunger and felt called to step up and take a stand.”

Their bakery idea took off when their home church in Hudson, Ohio, held a meeting about a vocational school in Haiti called Institution Univers. The Sandses met with the director and founder of the school, Hugues Bastien, and began discussing where their bakery might fit into the school’s vocational programs.

In June, the couple went to Haiti for five days to tour Ouanaminthe, and meet with those involved at the school and local missionaries. Ouanaminthe is a border town of about 120,000 people.

After touring the campus of nearly 2,200 students, they decided that their bakery would be the third building built on the school grounds, and a fundraising plan was set in motion. Along with helping them finalize their plans, the trip also showed the couple that their original budget for the start-up would have to be tripled.

So they reached out to their community. Rick told The Christian Post that they wanted to get their clientele involved and provide them the “opportunity to reach out in a global way on a local level.”

So far, they have raised $60,000, but fundraising is ongoing. They need $150,000 to build the bakery and stock it with a year’s supply of ingredients.

Once operational, the bakery will provide vocational training in baking and nutrition. Sands told CP the bakery will also supply bread for 2,200 students on a daily basis.” The program will allow Haitians to buy the bread wholesale and take it to the local markets and sell it.

He hopes that once students have completed the bakery vocational program they can start smaller bakeries in their local communities, thus creating jobs in an area where unemployment is at 90 percent.

The Sandses want the Haitian bakery to be self-sufficient after a year of operation. Rick Sands is working on sourcing some of the ingredients in Haiti to support the local economy and to reduce bakery costs.

Once it is up and running, the bakery will produce bread that is more nutritious than the bread that is currently available in Ouanaminthe. Currently, there is only one functioning bakery in the town of 120,000, according to Sands, so there is a large need for bread.

The goal for the project, Sands stressed, is to glorify God. He likened their work to the phrase, “Spread the Gospel, use words if you have to.” But in this case, he said, we’re using bread.