Village Pizzeria of Dresser hands out free bread-baking kits to families
Little on Earth is as soothing as the smell of freshly baked bread escaping from Mom’s kitchen.
“To me it smells like home,” said Johannes Vanderbent, the owner of the Village Pizzeria of Dresser. “It smells like being safe and being loved.”
Vanderbent has owned the Pizzeria since 2006, and has worked in the restaurant since 1986. When the COVID-19 outbreak began to hit western Wisconsin several weeks ago and people began to stockpile supplies, Vanderbent noticed many grocery stores were running out of bread.
“And it really occurred to me that baking bread was kind of a lost art,” he said. “People don’t do that at home anymore.”
This thought sprung Vanderbent and his wife Sara into action. They had a restaurant with reduced hours and business, which meant stock and produce that was going unused, so they decided they would put together bread-baking kits at the Pizzeria and hand them out to customers free of charge.
“I thought maybe I should sell kits, and then I really felt like I’d rather give away some comfort than try to profit from it,” he said. “I was thinking maybe we’d do a dozen kits or three dozen.”
But once Vanderbent put the idea out to his customers via social media, the response was overwhelming. He was able to put together 100 kits with the product he had available at the Pizzeria and gave away all of them in less than 24 hours.
“From Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon they were gone,” he said.
The Pizzeria ordered more product the next week and put together another --- kits, which were all given out in ---------. All Vanderbent asked in return for the kits was that families would take a photo of the bread and share it with him on social media.
“I got all kinds of pictures,” he said.
Vanderbent said at a time when stress levels at home are high, something as simple as baking fresh bread with the family can be a godsend.
“It’s a good chemistry lesson for kids and a good bonding time for families,” he said.
Families that showed up for the bread kits were overjoyed and happy to have something to take their minds off everything that’s going on around them.
“People were really thankful and people I hadn’t seen in a long time were stopping in or messaging us,” He said. “It was just kind of a neat community thing.”
Vanderbent said in uncertain times like these, he takes comfort in his faith.
“When I feel worried about stuff I feel a lot of comfort in knowing that I’m not in control and that’s OK,” he said.
But for those who do feel stressed or scared or uncomfortable, he hopes the smell of a loaf of freshly baked bread can help return some sense of calmness.
“It smells like growing up and being comfortable,” he said. “When you knew mom and dad were in control and you didn’t have anything to worry about. It’s a childlike faith that everything’s going to be OK.”