Good Bread for All: Meet the movement making fresh, small-batch bread accessible in Fort Wayne

If you ask Sarah Thompson, sourdough is a special way of baking.

You have to care for your starter daily,” she says. “I love the tactile quality of the bread and all the many steps that are involved.” Sarah Thompson started Good Bread for All in 2022.

It’s this passion for the organic, hands-on work of breadmaking paired with her awareness of food challenges in Fort Wayne that inspired Thompson to launch Good Bread for All in 2022. 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many Fort Wayne residents faced barriers to accessing nutritious, local food, often due to its price, a lack of transportation, or both. Since Thompson and her partner Carlos Marcano started the social action organization, Forward Indiana, they've led local efforts to create and stock a network of mutual aid community food pantries throughout the Fort Wayne area.

Good Bread for All is an outgrowth of this effort designed to address food challenges by offering fresh, vegan and gluten-free, small-batch sourdough for people to purchase, share, and/or claim. You can pick up a loaf in person at select local shops, or order it online to receive via shipping, pick up, or weekly deliveries.

Good Bread for All sells fresh, vegan and gluten-free, small-batch sourdough for people to purchase, share, and/or claim.

As pandemic-related food shortages continue, wages remain stagnant, and inflation skyrockets, Thompson and Marcano's movement of mutual aid is growing stronger among many Fort Wayne social media users.

“After spending so much time working on mutual aid and seeing the amount of food insecurity in our area, I realized a regular business wasn’t the answer for me,” Thompson says. “So I came up with the idea of a way to operate that wouldn’t leave folks out and would allow others to show solidarity by paying extra for others.”

Input Fort Wayne sat down with Thompson to learn more about her vision for Good Bread for All and how to best enjoy her homemade sourdough.

You can pick up a loaf in person at select local shops, or order it online to receive via shipping, pick up, or weekly deliveries.

IFW: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into sourdough baking.

ST: I’ve lived in the Fort Wayne area for 16 years. Three years ago I moved to Roanoke, where I live now with my significant other, Carlos Marcano, and two crazy cattle dogs: Peter Pan and Stella. 

I started baking bread five years ago as a way to decompress from the daily stressors of life, and I wanted to start baking regularly again after taking a year off to start Forward Indiana.

Breadmaking is a way of healing the soul. Sourdough, especially, appeals to me because of the natural yeast, and the wonderful flavor that can be achieved. When you’re creating and caring for your own yeast via your sourdough starter, you don’t have to worry if the grocery store has yeast or not. It’s a great way to be more self-sufficient.

“I love the tactile quality of the bread and all the many steps that are involved,” says Sarah Thompson, creator of Good Bread for All.

IFW: How does Good Bread work? Tell us about the process.

ST: There are three options on my website: buy, share, or claim. So, you can buy a loaf of bread and/or pay extra to share a loaf. All the shared loaf inventory gets transferred to the claim a loaf section for folks to claim for free! In this way, our little bread community is feeding each other. Those who have extra are sharing, and those who need are able to take. It’s a redistribution of resources.

IFW: How many types of sourdough do you offer, and what are your most popular items?

ST: Right now, I have two consistent options. We do an organic whole wheat/white blend sourdough and an organic gluten-free sourdough! When we can, we will incorporate other flavors, too. For example, at our pop-up on March 26, we had some raisin bread! 

Good Bread for All sells fresh, vegan and gluten-free, small-batch sourdough for people to purchase, share, and/or claim.

IFW: Where do you distribute your bread?

ST: Pre-ordered loaves can be picked up at my home in Roanoke and at Fancy & Staple! They’ve also been super supportive and offered to be a pick up site! Other than the pick ups, I do offer delivery and shipping! Since transportation can be an issue for some, I wanted to be as accessible as possible so I do weekly deliveries, too. 

Sarah Thompson hosts a booth for Good Bread for All.

IFW: How many people are on your team, and where do you bake? 

ST: Most of the time it’s just me, but for pop-ups, my friend Zoe Grosenbacher helps! I started out in my home kitchen. After my first pop-up, I realized I needed to scale up production and posted on social media asking for help. Firefly Coffeehouse reached out and offered to share their kitchen with me! I bake there in the evenings when they’ve finished for the day. It’s been a really great opportunity for us, and they’ve been so supportive and accommodating. I cannot thank them enough for their solidarity and for being such an example. 

Firefly Coffeehouse allows Good Bread for All to use its kitchen in the evenings.

IFW: How did you learn to bake bread, and what attracts you to sourdough, in particular?

ST: I’m self-taught. I just found recipes and kept on baking. I researched and troubleshot and went online to sourdough bread baking forums and asked for help. Mostly, I messed up a lot and just kept trying. 

My bread takes three days to make, and I just love the process. Every batch is different because the yeast is wild, and there are so many factors, and I love that!

Firefly Coffeehouse allows Good Bread for All to use its kitchen in the evenings.

IFW: Do you have any tips on how to best store or enjoy your bread?

ST: I keep my bread in a covered cake stand, cut side down. You can also slice and freeze your loaf and just take out one slice at a time and toast it up. Sourdough bread is so good toasted. I have a “tips” section in my highlights on Instagram with more suggestions. 

IFW: You helped launch Forward Indiana and its mutual aid food pantries. How are those efforts going so far?

ST: Forward Indiana is going great. We’re still installing pantries and encouraging folks to share what they can, whenever they can. Some of the pantries have been out for over a year now. So, we are providing maintenance and doing upkeep on those. It’s really awesome to see these pantries become staples of the community. 

Good Bread for All sells fresh, vegan and gluten-free, small-batch sourdough for people to purchase, share, and/or claim.

IFW: What is your perspective on the state of food access in Fort Wayne and how the situation can be improved?

ST: As someone who is food insecure, I see a number of ways we can fight this. Number one, we have to start believing and practicing that food is, indeed, a right—not a privilege. We deserve to eat and to do so with dignity. 

Once we all get on board with that fact, I think other solutions will be easier to implement. For example, when you understand that everyone deserves to eat and not go hungry, you’ll drop all the red tape that’s associated with accessing free food, such as requiring an ID to receive aid.  

Also, we need better public transportation in our city. Many food-insecure folks don’t have transportation, and without a ride to the store, they can’t get good groceries.

Lastly, we need to drop the stigma that’s associated with needing help. The minimum wage has been stagnant for more than a decade, and price gouging and corporate greed are rampant; we cannot place blame or judgment on the people. We have to start fighting for systemic change and holding our local, state, and federal representatives accountable. 

Good Bread for All sells fresh, vegan and gluten-free, small-batch sourdough for people to purchase, share, and/or claim.

IFW: What are some of your goals for the future of this venture? Do you plan to expand to more baked goods or establish a brick-and-mortar location?

ST: Right now, I’m focused on keeping things simple and just making good bread. I’m still involved with the daily duties of Forward Indiana, and all of this work is important to me, so I want to keep growing organically and keep listening to my community so that we can work together to create something sustainable. I’m open to the possibility of a brick-and-mortar space, but Good Bread isn’t profit-driven, so we’d need some major donations before we could think about that option. 

IFW: Why do you feel this venture is important in Fort Wayne, of all places?

ST: Mostly because that’s where I am. We all have to do what we can with what we have, wherever we are. Bloom where you are planted. I want to live in a place where we care for one another and where we can ask for help when we need it. So, I’m trying to cultivate that way of life. Also, a quarter of our residents are food insecure. There is a real need for food assistance here, and I feel a need to do what I can to help.

Follow Good Bread for All on Instagram at @goodbreadforall.

Read more articles by Kara Hackett.

Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.