SOUTH JORDAN — Brett Borg thought the offer for free flour was a joke.
He was busy baking the bread Schmidt’s Pastry Cottage has been giving away each day since the economic impacts of the new coronavirus started hitting Utah, so when a call came in offering free flour, he asked his co-worker to take a message. When he read the message, he was stunned.
“The message was that someone wants to donate 2,500 pounds of flour,” said Borg, whose father, Steve Borg, founded and runs the string of bakeries. “I thought it was a joke. I thought, ‘Who would donate 2,500 pounds of flour?’”
Skeptical, he suggested his father return the call.
Turns out the offer was legit.
“We were kind of blown away,” Brett Borg said. “That’s an incredible donation. ... It’s huge. It will yield about 6,500 loaves of bread.”
The donation from Ardent Mills came after employee Alex Nelson saw a television news story about Schmidt’s daily bread giveaway. When coronavirus fears shut down most businesses, Steve Borg was desperate to find a way to keep his employees busy and paid.
“They’re like family to me,” Borg said.
He proposed the idea to his son, Brett, and his wife, and they were both skeptical as to how giving bread away might help the 44-year-old business stay afloat. Borg said the purpose was more to keep his employees busy and thank the community for its support. It was also an opportunity to give people a chance to do something nice without spending a dime.
Schmidt’s gives each person two loaves of bread — one is for them to keep and enjoy and the other is intended for them to give to someone else. So far, the giveaway has been successful, with donations helping to support the effort.
Nelson was moved by the endeavor, and said Ardent Mills has a number of charitable efforts each April.
“So we’re just getting a bit of a jump on it,” Nelson said. “I saw what they were doing, and I thought we could help out. Despite all the bad news you hear about bread, we feel like it’s a nourishing food.”
The Ogden man talked with his boss and a plant manager and more than one person at the company’s corporate office.
“They all said, ‘Give them some flour,’” Nelson said. “We’re up in Ogden, and I just moved back to Utah last May. I’ve moved all around with the company, and I came back here. I just love Utah, and I think this is one of our best locations in our whole company.”
Ardent Mills not only sent 2,500 pounds of flour to Schmidt’s, they sent people to help unload the gift.
“He said he didn’t have a dock or a forklift, so we sent people down to help out,” Nelson said. “We’ll see how this thing goes. Maybe we’ll give him more to keep it going.”
Brett Borg said the response has been a ray of hope in a very stressful and frightening time for the small business. People haven’t let a single loaf go to waste.
“I think all of our regular customers have come through,” he said. “Now we’re going to see if we can get new people to come in to keep it going. But we’ll keep making (the bread) as long as people are asking for it. Up to this point, we’ve been able to give everything away. And we’ll just keep doing it for as long as people come through the doors.”