March 18, 2019
The Rachel Special: Rachel K’s Bakery gives small businesses a lesson in charitable giving
Written by Jenna Paulus
When she quit her corporate job, Rachel Midgette knew she wanted to start making breads and pastries, her real passion. She began baking to sell at the local farmers market in 2010, starting out of her home, which had to be inspected by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. After selling at the Washington, N. C. market for a few years, she expanded to nearby farmers markets and convenience stores. With three ovens and two refrigerators taking up her home space, she decided to pursue opportunities elsewhere. After a quick stint co-locating with a coffee shop, she bought and renovated her current space, which now houses Rachel K’s Bakery.
Rachel is invested in the community she has lived in most of her life. She was very aware that almost 30 percent of the population was living below the poverty line. She wanted to hire people and pay them above minimum wage so that they could make a living wage working at a bakery. Rachel knows that her employees have families and kids and therefore need to make a living. Being in the trenches and seeing their daily struggles helps her understand that paying them a living wage in turn gives her better employees.
As a small business owner in a small community, she’s also become more involved in charitable giving than she ever expected. With requests coming in from churches, cancer fundraising and hurricane relief, she does all she can to give back to the community that has supported her.
In addition, Rachel has one of the most unique ways to give back than we’ve seen in any of the communities we’ve visited. After going home and cleaning out a fridge that had too much food, she realized she needed to do something more to give back. She created what she calls “Rachel’s Special.” Anyone can walk in the door and ask for the “Rachel’s Special” and get a free meal, no questions asked. In the last 3-4 years of offering the “Rachel’s Special,” she’s given away more than $50,000 worth of free meals.
That program also inspired her to create a food pantry behind her business that she fills, and the community contributes to. Like a free library, the food pantry allows anyone to come get whatever food they need: canned and boxed foods, or fresh fruits and veggies. No registration is required.
As a small business owner, Rachel Midgette took it upon herself to create more ways to contribute in a positive way to her community of Washington, North Carolina. Rachel’s story is a true testament that as a small business owner you don’t need to use too many assets and run yourself dry to contribute, you just have to find a unique way to help in your community.