Toronto woman bakes over 800 loaves of bread during COVID-19 to help people in need


When Erin Socall lost her job as a chef due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she let self-pity spill overnight – then started making bread.A lot.

Socall, 46, was a chef in a private company, but was fired on March 13 as the city closed its doors to the new coronavirus. The next day, she said, she decided that she should help others.

“When I woke up that day, I just knew I had to do something,” she said. “It’s not even like it was a choice. ”

In the past three months, she says she has baked over 800 breads at home – sometimes as many as 40 a day – giving them to people in need in the Greater Toronto Area.

“It seems so crazy to make so much bread,” said Socall with a laugh. “I cooked every day for two months. ”

As a person who once lived on welfare while raising children as a single mother, Socall felt compelled to help nurture and make a living in isolation. She had never worked as a baker, but bread was an easy thing she could do in her tiny “ridiculously” apartment kitchen.

It started with Facebook posts asking if anyone needed bread – and was inundated with responses. So she started waking up at 6 a.m., making 12 to 18 loaves of bread, and then going around the city putting them down.

“You can actually see the joy in their eyes”

When Socall discovered how to bake more breads at once, “it quickly escalated.”

Socall has teamed up with community food-sharing organizations and set up a Go Fund Me to help with the ingredients and money from the gas. She woke up once at 3 a.m. and cooked for nine hours.

As donations dwindled in May, she began to slow down and sell her breads at Cider House, a restaurant on Roncesvalles Avenue, to cover the costs, donating one loaf for each loaf sold.

Erin Socall sculpts a heart on top of each bread she makes, so “everyone can have a little love in their life.” (Submitted by Erin Socall)

Socall has delivered to single mothers, refugees, people with reduced mobility and food sharing organizations, she said. She keeps bread in her car to give to the homeless.

“When I bring bread to people … you can really see the joy in their eyes,” she said.

“You know you are doing something that helps … that fills a stomach,” she said. ” That’s all I want. ”

She carves a heart on each loaf of bread, so “everyone can have a little love in their life.”

Looking for a commercial kitchen

Socall has slowed bread baking in the past month, now only three days a week and sells on Friday. But she wants to extend her Loaves of Love initiative to a nonprofit, so that she can mentor staff and help more people.

As a single mother, “All I ever wanted to do was feed my children,” she said in a previous interview in April.

“If this is something I can offer to other people, it just makes my world go round. “

Erin Socall has made hundreds of loaves since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Laura Howells / CBC)

She had started making bread to give a purpose to her life during the lockout to avoid falling into “this chasm of despair,” she said.

“I never thought in a million years that I would be a baker,” said Socall, who owns a small personal restaurant business, which she uses to advertise her bread.

At one point, she was able to use a commercial kitchen for a week, which greatly increased production, and says she is looking for someone else.

But for now, she will continue to produce her “love loaves” at home.


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