Bakery owners suffering from lockdown effects relieve community flour crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:30 18 April 2020

Jeff and Megan Charnock, owners of Mini Miss Bread. Photo: Tom Halliday Photography.

Jeff and Megan Charnock, owners of Mini Miss Bread. Photo: Tom Halliday Photography.

Tom Halliday Photography

A bakery owner’s life has been shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic in many ways – but she has found empowerment in helping the community.

Sofi and Emilia delivering flour. Photo: Megan Charnock.Sofi and Emilia delivering flour. Photo: Megan Charnock.

Megan Charnock, owner of Mini Miss Bread in Saffron Walden, was heartbroken when her father in law passed away about two weeks ago.

Megan and her co-owner husband Jeff have also had to close their bakery, which opened under a year ago.

The decision came as coronavirus became a serious issue. Initially, Mini Miss Bread put measures in place to ensure social distancing, but they quickly decided their flagship product, sourdough, is a luxury rather than an essential.

Megan said: “On the last Saturday we were open, all our customers kept two metres distance in the queues, but that was the last weekend we felt comfortable encouraging people to come out of their houses. We felt it was a responsible thing for people, ourselves and our employees, to close.”

Flour bags from Mini Miss Bread. Photo: Megan Charnock.Flour bags from Mini Miss Bread. Photo: Megan Charnock.

However, she found other ways of engaging with the community and helping people: “I decided to start tutorials. We offered some of our sourdough starter kits to people.”

As flour has been unavailable for weeks, Megan also decided to offer locals 500kg of flour she received at home.

“I posted about it on social media at 6am and had to tell people to stop ordering at 11am.

The bread flour, higher in protein content but fit as an all-purpose flour, was bagged up by daughters Emilia, 10, and Sofi, eight.

The girls helped to deliver bags locally and the flour also reached people further afield.

A woman from Great Chishill ordered a sack and took it home to bag up for her neighbours.

“This was when my husband had to go to his dad, so the children and I had to bag up 500kg of flour that weekend. It kept us busy and it meant I was still doing something proactive.

“There is so much sadness at the moment, it was a positive thing to be able to help the community with something so needed, as well as teach them a new skill.”

Megan’s father-in-law Dennis, who was in his late 80s, passed away after suffering from lung cancer for less than a year.

Megan said Dennis was a popular person and his life will be celebrated when the pandemic is over.

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