My Place Inc My Gluten Free Bakery

My Place Inc My Gluten Free Bakery Photo

My Gluten-Free Bakery is a youth inspired enterprise located in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The bakery will be operated by at-risk and homeless youth ages 19-22 under supervision of 2 seasoned bakers and a fiscal overseer, MyPlace, Inc. Mimicking the famous Greyston best practices model for social entrepreneurship developed by Bernie Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers, "we don’t hire youth to bake bread, we bake bread to hire youth!"

The Future We Are Creating

Our research shows that Asheville Metropolitan Area (Asheville and surrounding counties) doesn’t have a certified gluten-free bakery. We have found the need to provide a local bakery that can deliver fresh baked gluten-free bread.

We located a few breads made in the area, but none of them were gluten-free certified.  Therefore the bread is not appropriate for customers with celiac disease.

The common issues we have found with competition and breads from national suppliers seems to be the bread consistency and flavor. Our bread acts like a bread, tastes like a bread and breaks like a bread.

We have worked with Mission Hospital nutritionist to develop our recipe and received constructive critical feedback from local celiac disease member groups.


How We Are Creating It

 My Place Inc. is planning to open My Gluten Free Bakery around November 1st. We have done all neccessary inspecitions and researched future markets. We will hire 8 youth as appretices from surrouding communities. We have already identified a few candidates.

Our plan is to run two part-time shifts of 4 apprentices, each with a master baker and assistant baker as leader. We have received a verbal agreement to supply 5 grocery stores with our bread as trial. 

The taste is the most improtant factor acording to our custumer survey. We scored 270 out of 300 hundred points on taste test done by the gluten intolerant population! We plan to approach restaurants, health facilities and individuals for pre-orders for our breads.

We have also identified several business coaches to help us stay on target. Initially we will bake, package and deliver the bread to markets within a 50 mile radius and ship on an individual basis nationwide.    

Our Story & Why You Should Support Us

Venerable Pannavati got the idea for MyPlace, Inc. after attending a community meeting in 2008. She was shocked by the number of homeless children in Henderson County. In some cases, they weren’t just poor kids. Many were from well-to-do homes.

The following January, she turned her monastery near Downtown Hendersonville into a facility where up to 17 young people can live. Then last summer, she leased the Heritage Square building on Church Street, which became Gen Y, a 13,000-square-foot youth activity center. 

The building housed an accredited self-paced high school, a dance club, a fitness center, a restaraunt, a walk-in counseling center, a thrift shop, a black box theater, recording studio and darkroom.  Various workshops were also held.  

Funding for MyPlace and Gen Y comes from private donors, community foundations, corporations and profits from the various youth-run businesses.

Our model includes housing, a high school platform, counseling, vocational training, a club and black light theater and cultural education.

We were recently forced to temporarily close down the club and the theater, but are planning to reopen once we are more financially stable with income from the bakery.  

After nearly 3 years of the center being run by Venerable Pannavati and a handful of volunteers, new executive director Michael Akers came on board.

Our goal is to start a social venture to support our programs in order to be here for the future. That is where our bakery will help to create jobs, teach apprenticeship and entrepreneurial skills and offer an online high school program. Eventually we will be able to finance our social programs and work on capacity building.