Dayton bakery feeds Fido, employs homeless young people

The bakery at 701 S. Patterson Blvd. pumps out 10 types of treats, some that taste of apples and cheddar cheese and others that are grain free and vegan and have carrot cake and sweet pea flavors.

But doggone it, this isn’t some trendy confectionery.

Lindy & Company, which bakes and sells gourmet dog treats, has settled into its new home next to Daybreak's headquarters.

The bakery, which is staffed by homeless young people, has ramped up production of its canine treats as a result of a Daybreak's $5 million expansion and renovation project aimed at better serving youth in crisis.

“All proceeds go directly into Daybreak, which is a nonprofit, and everything gets reinvested back into the business and the other core services and programs that Daybreak provides,” said Linda Kramer, the nonprofit’s CEO.

Lindy’s is one of Daybreak’s job-training programs for homeless young people. The bakery, which launched in 2012, operated out a building on the 800 block of Wayne Ave until October.

About 38 homeless young people have worked at the bakery since the move.

On a typical day, they help mix the dough, cut out and cook the treats and package them to be shipped across the region and country, officials said. They also help answer the phones and work the register at the bakery.

The new bakery has maybe triple the space of the Wayne Avenue location, and new equipment — that was donated or deeply discounted — allows for the production of far more treats, said Noelle Brown, Lindy’s bakery manager.

Lindy’s can now produce 45,000 bags of dog treats every month, compared to 1,800 a month at its former home.

It is currently turning out on average 1,700 bags per month, which is already up more than 20 percent from its old digs.

Lindy's treats are primarily sold at stores across the Dayton region and California, but they can be found in more than a dozen other states.

Lindy’s new home was part of the $5 million “Project Rescue,” which added a new wing onto Daybreak’s existing emergency shelter for youth at 605 S. Patterson Blvd., said Kramer. The campaign is nearing its fundraising goal.

The new wing provides separate living spaces for youth 17 and younger and young people in crisis who are 18 to 24 years old, Kramer said.

Daybreak also purchased and renovated the 701 South Patterson Boulevard facility to house its full employment program, which includes an employment lab, job coaching and resume writing services and a space for its partner agency YouthBuild.

Daybreak has 24 on-site apartments and another 30 out in the community. The emergency shelter has 16 beds in the young adult wing and eight in the minor-age wing.

Bakery workers come from Daybreak’s street outreach, shelter or housing programs or from its partner agencies, YouthWorks or YouthBuild, Kramer said.

Employment at the bakery gives young people the soft skills that employers demand, such as good communication, conflict resolution, teamwork, cooperation and showing up to work on time, she said.

“We then transition them to other outside employment,” Kramer said.

Ashley Clotter, 20, who has worked at Lindy’s for about a month, relocated from Florida with a boyfriend but quickly found herself without stable housing.

But she learned about Daybreak online and now lives in one of Daybreak’s apartments. She said working at the bakery has improved her skill set. Staff can’t be late or disrespectful, they must stick to a schedule and complete the tasks assigned to them and fulfill their job responsibilities, she said.

“The training part is beneficial for all of us,” Clotter said. “You get to learn job skills here — stuff like that — and you get to learn how to work as a team.”

Daybreak was founded in 1975 and moved its headquarters to 605 S. Patterson Blvd. in 2008.

The new facility’s first floor is 20,000 square feet, and the unfinished basement offers another 20,000 square feet of space.

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