The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased levels of unemployment and lost wages. As a result, food banks and related supporting services have seen unprecedented levels of need.

Since early November, Alpha Baking Co. and its S.Rosen’s Bread brand have been working with Northern Illinois Food Bank to help bring food to those in the community who need it most. In order to learn more about this initiative, we reached out to Stephanie Powell, director of marketing, Alpha Baking, Chicago.


Douglas J. Peckenpaugh: How did you get connected with Northern Illinois Food Bank?

Stephanie Powell: We have a longstanding relationship with the Northern Illinois Food Bank that’s existed for over a decade, and have worked with them in many different capacities over the years. Our relationship with them began with the establishment of a food recovery program and has only grown from there. We’ve been part of their fundraising events, had employees volunteer, and even donated $120,000 to the organization when we celebrated our 100-year anniversary.


DJP: Are Alpha Baking and S.Rosen’s Bread regularly donating products like S. Rosen’s Farmers Market White Bread to Northern Illinois Food Bank?

SP: We’ve donated S.Rosen’s quality products before, but this is first time running product specifically to be donated as part of a product launch. We knew we were going to be participating in the My Pantry Express (MPX) program, and we were excited to offer our S.Rosen’s Farmer’s Market Craft White Bread, which is an exciting new item. We wanted to offer a new deluxe item to add some excitement to families’ mealtime, because we all could use some variety these days.


DJP: What is Northern Illinois Food Bank’s My Pantry Express (MPX)?

SP: According to Northern Illinois Food Bank: “My Pantry Express is an innovative program designed by Northern Illinois Food Bank to reach neighbors not currently being served by the charitable food network in support of our mission to solve hunger in Northern Illinois. The first-of-its-kind program offers a private, online food shopping experience and local pickup at convenient locations and times for food-insecure neighbors to more easily access the nutritious foods they need. Neighbors place grocery orders through our website, and select a location, date, and time that works best with their schedule. Once the selection process is complete, we fulfill orders at the Food Bank, and groceries are sent out to our communities!”


DJP: When did you launch S.Rosen’s Farmers Market White Bread?

SP: We launched this item in late October of 2020 and have future line expansions planned.


DJP: How do sales of S.Rosen’s Farmers Market White Bread help this cause?

SP: The higher the sales of this item, the longer we can keep up this program. Alpha Baking is absorbing the lion’s share of the funding for this donation, but with strong sales we’ll be able to prolong these donations. We’ll be dealing with the pandemic and the economic fallout for the foreseeable future, so we want to keep these donations going.


DJP: What advice would you offer to other bakeries seeking to help with similar efforts related to food insecurity?

SP: Supply them with the same products that you would serve to your own family. In these trying times, the simple joys make all the difference, and having quality food on the table can make mealtime a bright point in the day.