By: Finance Foodie
During the past two years writing Forays of a Finance Foodie, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many fantabulous events – from restaurant openings to fashion shows to grand tastings. Although all were fun-filled and electrifyingly awesome, none of these experiences touched my heart as much as my recent visit to Greyston Bakery, a company that epitomizes the crux of social entrepreneurialism at its best.
Last week, Boston bloggers Fiona, Lisa, Karen, and I (along with a crew of New York based bloggers) were invited to spend the day at Greyston’s baking plant in downtown Yonkers. For those who are not familiar with the Greyston Bakery story, the company was founded by NASA engineer turned Zen Buddhist Bernie Glassman in 1982. Glassman created the bakery with the goal of employing the “unemployable” (i.e. individuals with criminal records, substance abuse, and low education levels) in order to get them back on their feet and into the workforce. Although the bakery is a for-profit business, all their profits go back to the Greyston Foundation, the non-profit parent company of the bakery and also one of the largest social service organizations in Yonkers. The Greyston Foundation uses these profits (along with government grants and private donations) to support health and welfare programs that build and uplift the Yonkers community.
I was seriously looking forward to this trip, as businesses that have a humanitarian aspect always have a special place in my heart. I’d already heard great things about Greyston and its socially responsible mission, so I was really excited to see the operations first hand (and eat some brownies, natch)!
The first part of the day was spent making our own custom batch of blondies in the Greyston test kitchen. This mini R&D lab is where Greyston come up with new flavor combinations for the brownies and test new products ideas (recent innovation: gluten-free cookies!)
Cue “Sugar Sugar” song
Half Baked and DMB's Magic Brownies ice cream (two of the flavors that use Greyston Bakery brownies). Greyston is the predominant supplier of brownies for B&J (and its main client), even though it actually costs Ben & Jerry’s more to use Greyston’s brownies in their ice creams. But B&J continues to support Greyston because they believe in Greyston’s mandala to give back to the community. The Ben & Jerry’s / Greyston Bakery relationship is truly beautiful and uncommon in the cutthroat world of business.
Before we all left, we were also given a box of “Do-Goodie” brownies, Greyston’s newest product that can be purchased directly by consumers that is sold on their website and through their twitter. Looks like I know what I’ll be getting my friends and family for Christmas this year!