Refugees get a sweet start

New food truck serves drinks and treats
Jba Staff Pic By Andrew Hetherington Copy 2

If you frequent some of the farmers markets around Atlanta, you may have had a chance to taste the fresh baked cinnamon rolls and cheddar scallion scones from Just Bakery Atlanta (JBA). Since 2017, this unique bakery has been serving customers baked goods via delivery, pickups and at the Grant Park, Morningside, East Atlanta Village and Oakhurst farmers markets.

But last month, JBA got its very own food truck and a permanent spot where you can stop for tea, coffee and treats!

Located at 1722 Oak Grove Road in Decatur – in the parking lot of Oak Grove Methodist Church – the JBA food truck provides easy access to customers to grab breakfast, snacks or breads to take home after work. You can get morning buns, Danish, bagels, biscotti, pop tarts, challah and focaccia – all baked and sold the same day.

The chalkboard menu changes daily, and the flavor profile of the items reflects the background of the staff – immigrants and refugees from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. You will find ma’rouk stuffed with dates and nuts by Hayat (baking specialist from Syria), head baker Bhima’s (who comes from Nepal) twist on apple pie with cardamom and ginger, as well as good old American multigrain bread for dipping in soups and making grilled cheese sandwiches.

Hayat W Marouk Pic By Leah Lonsbury Copy

For those who have dietary restrictions, the gluten-free monster cookie (oatmeal, chocolate chip), and vegan molasses cookie (soft gingerbread with sugar crust) will not disappoint. Most of the recipes were created by Jenny Barber (formerly at Alon’s, Highland Bakery, Java Cat) and Michele Ogden (creator of Posh Pastries and Whimsy Confections).

Along with bread and pastries, the food truck serves drinks that align with JBA’s mission of providing financial security. Get a cup of black, herbal or fruit tea sourced from Just Add Honey Tea Company, a Black female-owned company located on Atlanta Beltline. The organic coffee is from social enterprise Capeltic Nuestra Café in Chiapas, Mexico, where local farmers grow, roast and package the coffee in order to get fair wages and care for their environment.

Ganga M W Cinnamon Rolls Pic By Jba Staff

JBA was founded by Georgia-based Leah Lonsbury. She and her partners from Clarkston’s International Rescue Committee identified certain hurdles in the resettlement process, with barrier to employment and fair wages being the main issue. Through JBA, she hires refugee and immigrant workers who may not have relevant job skills, English proficiency or certifications, and often get stuck at a minimum wage job that is difficult to survive on. JBA provides on-the-job training to people who have often never baked before, professional ServSafe certifications that they can use to seek other jobs, and wages that start at $15/ hour.

“Baking is tactile and experiential work, something you can do with others even when you don’t have a common language. And it builds confidence, comradery and a sense of community,” says Lonsbury, who serves as executive director of the nonprofit. She has repeatedly observed her 17 employees helping each other learn their way around in the kitchen, sharing lunches, and planning after-work get-togethers.

Check JBA’s Facebook page to find out where they will be this week or visit their food truck in Decatur from 7am-6pm Tuesday-Friday.

Photos provided by Just Bakery Atlanta. Photo of Just Bakery Atlanta staff by Andrew Hetherington; photo of Hayat with ma’rouk by Leah Lonsbury and photo of Ganga with cinnamon rolls by JBA staff

*First names used for privacy.

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Categories: Blog, Peach Plate (blog)