A bakery located in New York City’s Spanish Harlem is where immigrants from around the world bake bread together. Jessasmyn Rodriguez, the founder of Hot Bread Kitchen, developed the idea for it after completing assignments for the United Nations Development Program in Central America and Mexico, where her interest in baking was sparked. Hot Bread Kitchen is a nonprofit training bakery where men and women from Morocco to Mexico form an eclectic group of people working toward a better life in a new country. Most of the people there have one thing in common, however – they all grew up learning how to bake traditional breads in their home countries.
In order to work at Hot Bread Kitchen, men and women have to be low-income and foreign-born. They also need to have desire for financial independence, which they can achieve at the kitchen through a baking career. Hot Bread Kitchen is a place where immigrants can take what they know about baking and combine it with language lessons. They can also learn about commercial baking as well as management techniques which can help them as they embark on a path to citizenship.
This kitchen is one of many new not-for-profit kitchens that also act as language training centers and commercial businesses. Other examples include La Cocina in San Francisco and Hope & Main in Rhode Island. Local food entrepreneurs and business owners in cities across the country have become aware of the skills and needs of immigrants arriving in the United States, and many have begun to collaborate with donors to provide new opportunities for less-advantaged populations.
At Hot Bread Kitchen, workers are paid for their time and skills from money that is generated from selling their products, as well as from private and corporate donations. Workers are also given assistance finding professional baking jobs after one year of working at the kitchen.