Back in April, 16-year-old Scarsdale high school sophomore Brianna Subin wanted to show her appreciation to the tireless work that emergency responders were providing during the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brianna baked cookies in her family’s kitchen and brought them as a gift to the Scarsdale Police Department.
Rather than leave this token of thanks as a one-off gift, the Subin family began to coordinate more home-baked gratitude for local police, firefighters, emergency workers and pharmacies.
This evolved into the collection of gift cards, toys and clothing for Westchester families who found themselves in desperate financial straits due to the pandemic. The Subins began to recruit others in their community to join their effort, and word of their activities spread quickly to other areas.
Fast-forward to today and the Subins are the driving force behind Bake Back America, a national initiative that encourages the public to offer thanks to the workers on the Covid-19 frontlines and help families in need during this crisis period.
For those who are not comfortable with their kitchen skills, Bake Back America has been set up to accept cash donations that can be allocated to nonprofits that are able to provide assistance.
Bake Back America is also coordinating with restaurants around the country to deliver their excess food to local nonprofit organizations or food-insecure individuals.
The Subin family runs Bake Back America, with Brianna’s mother Melissa, a former tennis player, in charge of sponsorships and order fulfillments and father Herb, a personal injury attorney, handling finances and social media while assisting Brianna and her 13-year-old brother Benji with the baking.
And while this might seem like an extraordinary journey from Point A to Point B, Melissa Subin believed the example set by Brianna needed to be expanded upon.
“I felt if I was going to do something that I would not do it in a small level,” she said. “I’m very grateful that it has taken off to this level. We realized that a lot of people wanted to order meals to go different locations, but not everyone knew what restaurant to call and how to organize it. It’s a process and you have to be able to do that.”
Melissa had a happy surprise over how quickly Bake Back America resonated.
“We just had a delivery in Alaska yesterday,” she said. “And that’s just the meal portion of it. We work with those in need – we really want to inspire people to do acts of kindness. And it could be any level of acts of kindness – I have people emailing and calling me to say, ‘I have an act of kindness, can you help me get this going.’ We have so many different initiatives and it’s such a broad sense of initiatives, from getting meals to people and pantries to granting wishes to Zooming art classes, and story-times to children in need. And they’re all important.”
Subin estimated that the initiative delivered approximately 30,000 meals in the last few months, including a recent food pantry event in Westchester that drew 750 people in need of assistance.
The family operates Bake Back America as a volunteer organization, but with more cash donations being offered they have begun looking into creating a 501(c)3 nonprofit that would include paid staff to help with the processing of requests and contributions.
As for the original concept of showing appreciation via baking, the Subins’ kitchen is still very active.
“We are going to be baking this weekend,” Subin said. “We just had a group of young 16-year-old boys who baked for the Coachman Family Shelter in White Plains. Baking is our fun grassroots way of dropping off and showing people that we’re thinking of them. It is a creative way give back that doesn’t require a whole process.”