In the Spring of 1997, Reverend Dr. Jeni Prigmore, an All-Faith minister and co-founder of Universal Brotherhood Movement, Inc., read from the menu of the Atlanta Bread company, as she was eating lunch, that they served only fresh-baked items. Upon inquiry, she was told they discard into the trash bin, all baked items, cookies, rolls, buns, muffins, bagels and many types of bread, sliced and unsliced at closing time each evening.
She contacted the owner of the franchise, Mr. Basil Couvares, to explore a way to make these items available to the needy. He encouraged her with the admonition that the recipients must receive the merchandise through a recognized charitable organization and that a letter from such organization would be appropriate. His rules for handling the pick-up were explicit: she must be at the store just before closing time, bring boxes and bags for the items, quickly transfer them and clear the area without interfering with the routine of the employees store-closing duties. Thus began the Bread for Life Ministry.
The nightly supply was usually sufficient to fill the trunk and back seat of a large sedan. Since it was unwrapped and most agencies she had contacted required the food to be wrapped, Rev. Prigmore contacted a plastic bag company, Multi-Pak USA, Inc. This company approved giving the Bread for Life Ministry sufficient bags of various sizes to serve the program for a period of one year, renewable upon review for subsequent years.
At this point, the enormity of the volume made it apparent one or two persons could not possibly handle the job seven nights a week so Rev. Prigmore began to recruit volunteers. She enlisted the aid and assistance of more than two dozen persons willing to commit one evening per week to collect boxes, pick up the bread items, take them home and individually wrap each item or group of items, then distribute the products to appropriate charities the following morning. Since she has signed up more than enough volunteers for one store, she arranged with several more Atlanta Bread Company locations for the pick-up of their unsold items at closing.
The Bread for Life Ministry has filled a need, both for the Atlanta Bread Company’s surplus and the agency’s requirements. Rev. Prigmore’s enthusiasm and energy, together with her ability to marshal, organize and train volunteers to conceive the plan and match the supply and demand elements has provided the base for a new ministry that is available to anyone who wishes to pursue it. A visitor from Scotland rode with some volunteers to observe how the system worked then took the plan back to initiate the service there. Friends of Rev. Prigmore, from across the country, request information on how to start the service in their areas. The idea continues to spread by word of mouth. Rev. Prigmore retains no ‘ego equity’ in the system, freely offering the details to anyone who wishes to participate.
Rev. Prigmore provided the Atlanta Bread Company a written format so they could enlist the aid of charitable organizations in other cities as their franchise expanded. She even drove to Lexington, Kentucky, at her own expense to recruit and train a team of volunteers for the new BC store opening there. It is estimated that in three years, more than 20 tons of fresh food has been delivered to three dozen charitable organizations to feed thousands.