The concept of a bakery to support a community under financial and spiritual stress was born during late 2012. After completing multiple visits to similar operations, consultations with experts and extensive training courses for all staff the search for a suitable and cost effective facility began.
Initially the concept was to convert two shipping containers into a bakery but the working space provided was found to not be sufficient for our needs.
After making contact with Ds Danie van Rensburg it was decided to build a bakery attached to the church. This has the various advantages such as infrastructure that can be shared by the workers, 3 phase power supply and 24 hour security.
During 2013 the bakery facility was built and all ovens, mixers, proofers and other machines were acquired. This process was extensively supported by DGRV, a local NPO, who also provided training for the personnel.
Finally after two years of preparation operations started in early 2014.
The bakery at Bethlegem operates 6 days a week with a host of ingredients – including a few tons of flour! – being delivered weekly. Baking starts in the early evening to ensure that fresh bread is delivered right after dawn to each and every customer.
Baking at this scale is a specialized operation, with our trained bakers moving in harmony to ensure perfect loaves for every home. The process involves mixing 50kg of dough for every 60 loaves at a time, dividing, forming, proofing and finally baking the mixture to perfection. Two team members can produce 60 loaves every 3 hours.
The bakery is equipped with 50kg, 20kg and 5kg mixers. A bun divider and dough former automate the manual process to some extent to ensure uniformity. Three ovens and a proofer provide the baking facility. Bread pans, pan racks and stainless steel tables were purchased. A store room and large fridge provide necessary ingredient storage space.
Bethlehem consists of two teams of bakers, working in tandem by alternating night shifts with the day team arriving at 5am to cut, pack and load the cooled bread. From 6.30am onwards our driver fires up the tuk-tuk and starts delivering freshly baked bread across the city.
To maximize the food we can deliver daily the bakers don’t waste a minute with other baked goods such as cookies, rolls and Moringa Muffins being baked while the bread is in the oven and cooling down.
At Bethlegem every team member knows that each loaf of bread is crucial to someone who truly needs it and gives with joy to this endeavour.