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Easthampton bakery’s bread giveaway is a thank-you to community

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  • Small Oven Bakery owner Amanda Milazzo checks on loaves of pain au levain — almost done — at the establishment on Union Street in Easthampton early Wednesday morning. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Milazzo sprinkles flour over loaves of pain au levain before flipping them over to bake early Wednesday morning, May 6, 2020, in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Small Oven Bakery owner Amanda Milazzo sends a half-dozen loaves into the oven Wednesday morning. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sarah King makes baguettes at Small Oven Bakery in Easthampton early Wednesday morning. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Croissants in process at Small Oven Bakery on Union Street in Easthampton early Wednesday morning, May 6, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2020 8:40:46 AM
Modified: 5/15/2020 8:40:35 AM

A local bakery has started giving away bread to the public as a way to give back to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just want everyone to be fed and happy,” said Amanda Milazzo, owner of Small Oven Bakery in Easthampton.

The Union Street establishment was founded as a result of crowdfunding six years ago, and Milazzo wanted to show her appreciation for the community.

“They’ve been helping me stay open,” Milazzo said.

Small Oven had 25 employees before the pandemic, Milazzo said. It then closed for a day before reopening with five employees. The number is now up to seven.

Because of a reduction in its hours, the bakery no longer is open Mondays. However, for the bread giveaway, the bakery opened its doors on May 4 from noon to 2 p.m. and gave away a loaf to any person who asked.

The first bread giveaway was “mildly successful,” Milazzo said.

The bakery baked 45 loaves of Pain au Levain, a white sourdough bread, and gave away 30. The rest were donated to the Easthampton Community Center.

The bakery has also been donating five loaves every day it is open to the center, Milazzo said, in addition to bread left over at the end of the day.

“People are absolutely loving it,” said Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center. People are looking for comfort during this time and, “That warm loaf of bread is just that hug,” she said.

Customers also have been adding donation loaves to their orders to contribute to the Monday giveaways, Milazzo said, an option that is now available on the bakery’s online ordering form.

Small Oven will repeat the bread giveaway every other Monday, Milazzo said. The next one will be on May 18 from noon to 2 p.m., although she said hours will be adjusted as needed.

“As long as people are coming and it’s filling a need, we’ll keep doing it,” she said.

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