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How Greyston Bakery Breaks Employment Barriers Through Sweet Treats

In our new Supplier Stories series, we’re featuring our wonderful suppliers! So many of them have special stories, from women entrepreneurs to family farms to mission-driven folks who want to make a difference. Some are local — only available in a couple of stores — while others are growing along with us. Follow along as we share their tales.

When you take your first (or thousandth) bite of a Greyston Bakery brownie, it’s hard to imagine that for founder Bernie Glassman — a Zen Buddhist monk — the bakery’s initial purpose wasn’t just to make tasty brownies.

Sure, delicious baked goods mattered, but one mission mattered more: to make the world a better place. And one way to do that was by creating new job opportunities for people who had a hard time finding them: including those the 70 million Americans with a criminal record, or those who didn’t have the language, experience or education required for an entry-level position.

Sweet treats and fresh opportunities through open hiring

In the early 1980s, Greyston Bakery had its chance to bring that mission to life. Back then, the company had been selling cakes to area department stores. And as they grew, they realized that they needed more employees to keep up.

So they opened their doors to people who needed a job — no resume required, no experience needed, no questions asked. In time, they named their approach the Open Hiring Model, and embraced it as a concept to provide jobs to people who otherwise faced barriers to employment.

“No one willing to work should be denied the dignity of a job.”

In the decades that followed, the business continued to grow, driving new opportunities beyond cakes alone into brownies and other sweet treats. And all the while, they focused on building their hiring model, helping create opportunities for everyone:

“At Greyston, inclusion is the core of our Open Hiring Model. Open Hiring creates opportunities for everyone: women, men, people of color, people of all faiths and sexual orientations, immigrants and refugees, the economically disadvantaged, the formerly incarcerated and all others who may have been excluded — blocked from contributing to the health and strength of our society,” reads the company’s manifesto. “Because no one willing to work should be denied the dignity of a job.”

Making a greater impact with the Whole Planet Foundation

It was in 2012 when they first met Whole Foods Market.

That year, Greyston Bakery brownies appeared in various stores in the northeastern United States — along with a commitment: the company would (and still does) donate 2 percent of profits to the Whole Planet Foundation to alleviate poverty worldwide.

Additionally, Greyston Bakery also received a loan from Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program to further their mission. To date, they’ve sold over a million brownies, raising $70,000 for the Whole Planet Foundation.

Want to help that number grow? Support the mission and your sweet tooth: Greyston Bakery desserts are found in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide. Find your store and pick up a sweet treat today.