Twelve-year-old Noah Hertzman is turning dough into dough-nations.
During after school hours and on weekends, Noah receives bread orders through his website, Dough-Nation.net, loads ingredients in to his mother’s bread machine, then packs and delivers bread to his customers around the region.
The O’Hara Township resident, who attends Adat Shalom, is raising funds for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as part of his bar mitzvah project — a service-oriented activity that highlights his charitable commitment.
“I chose this project because I felt that food insecurity was a very large-scale problem that needed a lot of attention,” Noah said. “I also have my bar mitzvah in about a year, so I figured it would be a perfect project that would benefit the community and make me feel good inside, since I like to know that I’m making a difference.”
Last year, Noah was involved in a conversation around a cut in funding for government-subsidized lunches at area public schools; he wanted to make a difference.
“I decided I wanted to raise awareness of and fight food insecurity,” he said.
In 2013, Noah raised $500 through direct bread sales, while his father’s employer, Vocollect, a company owned by Honeywell, matched those sales three to one.
To reach such a feat, more than a dozen varieties of bread can be ordered through his website, including Noah’s popular turkey pepperoni rolls, and the top-selling cinnamon swirl bread.
Narrowing his menu down meant practice and patience for Noah. “My mom’s policy stayed the same: if after you don’t succeed 17 times, try, try again.”
In addition to online orders, Noah has raised funds by initiating contact with his teachers and peers at school, while his mother, Monica Hertzman, leaves bread samples out on her desk at work, along with a clipboard and order form adjacent to the goods.
For her, his drive is one that she is happy to accommodate.
“This is really his first entrepreneurial venture, but he’s always been self-motivated in other areas of his life,” Hertzman said of her son. “It’s great to see him get excited about the orders that come in, and the money we donate.”
The donations add up.
Ninety-five cents of every dollar donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank goes directly to services, said Anne Hawkins, it’s chief development officer. Community and individual projects such as Noah’s make up 9 percent of the annual revenue budget, with last year’s donations adding up to nearly $1 million, Hawkins noted.
Noah’s Dough-Nation falls in line with the Food Bank’s mission to feed the hungry in southwestern Pennsylvania while mobilizing against hunger. Noah’s efforts “help to raise funds to feed people today and also to raise awareness and inspire others to help end hunger in the future,” Hawkins said.
With his great success thus far, will Noah ever stop baking bread and raising awareness?
“At some point in my life, I will probably stop in order to invent and program a bread-making robot to do all of the work for me, but until then, I’ll probably continue baking breads,” he said. “I don’t really have a deadline because I am not going to stop my business when I become a bar mitzvah.”
(Bee Schindler can be reached at email@example.com.)