After she was forced to temporarily shut down her massage business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer Lanham decided she wanted to give back to those who may be struggling by giving away homemade bread.
Lanham, a Springtown resident, is the owner of By Faith Massage Therapy in Aledo and is also an avid baker, making homemade doughnuts for her church every week.
“My business was one of the ones that was obviously not allowed to be open and we closed at the end of March. I typically bake doughnuts for my church every Sunday, so I’ve always kind of been proactive in baking for them voluntarily. The way this started is even though my church wasn’t having service, I still decided to bake doughnuts for the worship team that was meeting and I asked my pastor’s wife if there was anyone needing bread. That day I think I baked six loaves and took them some and ended up with some left over,” Lanham said. “In trying to decide what to do with it, I drove through the [Springtown] Brookshire’s parking lot and just started asking people, and all of a sudden it was like the Lord spoke to me. I thought, I could sit at home and worry about my business, or I can be proactive and that is literally how it started. The Springtown Bready Lady was actually created and born during the pandemic.”
Lanham said using her large, antique commercial oven, she can bake up to 12 loaves of bread. Lanham said she has been using an Amish white recipe and every loaf is handmade.
“Before I knew it, I would show up at Brookshire’s to give out bread and there would be cars waiting on me. It took off in a way that we never expected it to,” Lanham said. “At the same time we thought we could use bread as a tool to bring comfort, we thought we could speak to those that may not know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and so that’s created an amazing opportunity to show people that they’re being loved and cared for even though they may not feel like it.”
Springtown resident Andrea Sallade said she found Lanham on the Springtown Community Facebook page after seeing some of her earlier posts.
“In our small town we only have one grocery store, Brookshire’s, and as wonderful as they are, they were very limited on anything they had in the store. They had no bread and were out of a lot of things. We have an older son who is 21 and has special needs, and his immune system is compromised, so I had already been at home for quite some time and I was feeding three men in my home — and they like their sandwiches. I had been trying to make my own bread and failing rather spectacularly, so she was a real blessing to me,” Sallade said. “She has the will and calling to support the community in a way that she knows how, so that was really wonderful. [The bread] is absolutely delicious. It is so fresh and not your typical Wonder Bread type, it’s like your grandmother’s bread, so it has a wonderful texture — it’s dense and a little bit heavier, and has a very subtle sweetness to it. There is just nothing that compares to her bread, it’s really delicious.”
Lanham said there have been many people instrumental to her success including her husband, Kevin, Cafe 10:31, Chicken Express in Springtown, Dan’s Smokehouse, Servolution Network and many other individuals.
“Servolution Network has really helped me in getting my name out there and kind of teaching me how to run this,” Lanham said. “Jason Malewiski is the executive director and he’s really helped me find a balance in this and told me what I needed to do. From the biggest donation to the smallest, every one of them is precious and appreciated. My husband and children are helping hands from baking to helping with household chores, especially my 13-year-old daughter Cheyenne.”
Malewiski said he’s been running nonprofit organizations for five years and shared some pointers with Lanham.
“I encouraged her to share her why — from her heart as to why she wanted to give bread. I’ve shared her social media on Servolution Network’s page and our Facebook groups, Love Your Neighbor and Feed the Community. We believe together we can do more, love more, serve more, reach more. In short, we’ve connected her with some of our contacts like Cafe 10:31 in Azle and Springtown Chicken Express,” Malewiski said. “She has found a way to meet a tangible need, met it, and created ways to build community by allowing others ways to join in and help her love others. She is selfless — while others may sit on the couch and complain about COVID, she’s exemplified what it looks like to love your neighbor. She’s also sharing the love of Jesus with no agenda — it’s so wonderful to see.”
Sallade said it’s a feeling of peace and comfort to know that Lanham is there if her family needs bread.
“She is there and she is very, very joyful in the work that she’s doing for the community. I want everybody to understand her sweet spirit and the energy that she puts forth in it is just really wonderful,” Sallade said. “The community has rallied around her where everyone donates things from eggs to flour to whatever we can donate to help her keep going and supply those in need in our community. It really is just a wonderful feeling that as she gives because she has the skill, we are able to give back to her as a thanks of our gratitude.”
Lanham said once she started setting up in the Brookshire’s parking lot, The Springtown Bread Lady was just a name given to her by the community, and stuck. Lanham now goes to the Springtown Brookshire’s parking lot to give away bread at 5 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“I think it’s important to invest our time in our lives into something that gives us energy, so the joy I am able to receive from doing this has been just an incredible experience,” Lanham said. “I’m excited every day to do it.”
For more information about Lanham, visit The Springtown Bread Lady Facebook page.