Readers must be sick and tired of reading about the pandemic, “The New Normal”, and are likely to just want to move on with their lives. However, the next months will be crucial to the emotional and financial recuperation, now that Stage 3 has allowed more industries to open in Canada. How can we accommodate customers with limited staff or reduced floor space to ensure social distancing? These are some of the changes that we’ve heard from our readers from as early as March of this year.
Everyone’s lives were altered to some extent. In-store bakeries adapted by pre-packaging baked goods so to limit exposure. More stores are opting to offer delivery and curbside pickup, and have updated their websites to reflect these new services. Some bakery cafés have taken advantage of the temporary expansion of sidewalk space to encourage diners to linger safely. The ongoing pandemic has even delayed the much-awaited unveiling of the Jake The Baker contest winner, normally slated for April.
Despite all of these changes, the spirit of serving a neighbourhood remains with Ardent Mills’ recently re-named Jake The Baker contest. Now known as the “Inspirational Bakery of the Year” award, it continues to celebrate bakeries that contribute to their community in a meaningful way. Despite the name change, the values reflected by this contest remain intact. The traditional prize of a cover story and travel to the Bakery Showcase remains unchanged.
Inspirational Bakery of the Year award recognizes bakeries that donate to charities, helps raise funds for worthy causes or are a neighbourhood institution that tourists and locals love to visit. Family-run bakeries understand the value of hard work and know how to bring a smile to their customers’ faces from not just their treats, but by getting to know their clients intimately. Bakeries have made cakes to observe births, deaths and all milestones in between.
The Founding Sponsor, Ardent Mills, wants to give nationwide recognition to the bakeries that have kept the economy going during the worst of times and helped raise funds to lift their friends and colleagues during their darkest hour. Despite the availability of governmental emergency funding, many bakeries and cafés are still struggling. Whereas they would have normally helped out with local initiatives, many mom-and-pop shops are now struggling just to stay employed. What little profit margin they have means less of it can go towards communities that relied on the sponsorship of beloved local businesses.
These are some of the changes that herald a new age to the family-owned bakery. However, if there’s something a bakery knows about, it’s resilience: How to adapt to changing tastes, how to expand or reduce inventory and how to keep rolling with the punches. Ardent Mills recognizes that some of the values that were previously cherished, such as innovation in baked goods, community service and giving are still as valid as ever today, and won’t change with the contest’s new name. The ways in which that innovation will be expressed, or how a bakery chooses to give will likely change in the next year. Nevertheless, the love that people feel for bakers and the staple of their neighbourhood will not change. Ardent Mill’s and Bakers Journal’s Inspirational Bakery of the Year contest will continue to instill pride in the winners and make their regions proud.
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