ALEDO, Texas — For nearly 15 years, Jennifer Lanham owned a massage clinic in Aledo, until COVID-19 put her out of business last year. Inspired by her Christian faith, Lanham wanted to help others who were also struggling due to the pandemic.
The pandemic led more people to lose their jobs and experience food insecurity. Adding to it, there were shortages at grocery stores.
So Lanham believed what people needed is what she kneaded. Early on, during the shutdown, Lanham - who says she’s a homemaker, not a baker - made a few loaves of bread for the people at her church.
She had a few left over and didn’t want them to go to waste. So, she drove through the grocery store parking lot looking for people in need. What she found left her stunned.
“People would cry over a loaf of bread and I’ve never had to cry over having a loaf of bread,” Lanham said. “And I then started feeling like there is a huge need and I felt like I could fill it.”
Those people included Adron and Cassie Gray. They had never been to Lanham's By Faith Massage Clinic, but they couldn’t be more thankful for the masseuse.
“She’s an angel,” Cassie said. “And she always says she isn’t, but she really is one of the angels walking among this earth.”
About the time COVID hit, Cassie was diagnosed with cancer and Adron took off work to care for her, when, all of a sudden, an angel showed up offering free bread.
“It made me feel good, restored my faith in humanity,” Cassie said.
No one even knew who Lanham was, which is why everyone called her "The Springtown Bread Lady."
Her bread was not only a blessing, it was addictive. Especially to her.
“As soon as I got the calling to do this, I haven’t been able to stop,” Lanham said.
She has been giving away bread, for free, for nearly two years. At one point, she was making nearly 280 loaves of bread a week.
She’s given away so much, her husband, a sergeant with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, built her a bigger kitchen and a market at the front of their property so people could come and take what they need.
She sells other items to help support her mission and gives out free farm fresh eggs, too. Her kids help out, running the register and greeting people with a smile. But the biggest smile is hers. Because Lanham says, even though she lost her job, she found her calling.
“If a loaf of bread makes someone feel loved, then yeah, I want to bake that loaf of bread for them,” she said. “When you really feel nurtured and you really feel cared for, that’s a feeling that’s hard to replace by anything else.”
“It’s not just bread to eat, it’s the bread of life,” said one of her customers, Shannon Twitty.
Caring for others and meeting their needs, sounds like the perfect recipe for feeding the soul.