How one Madison man turned his love of breadmaking into a weekly fundraiser for social justice organizations

From the city council to his kitchen counter, Mo Cheeks is always making a difference

MADISON, Wis.– If you live in the area, the name ‘Mo Cheeks’ might ring a bell. Cheeks served on the Madison City Council from 2013 to 2019. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find Cheeks at his kitchen counter than at the City-County building.

“Everybody can do their own little part to make our community better in their own way,” explained Cheeks.

For Cheeks, that ‘little part’ means baking bread. He makes approximately two dozen loaves a week and credits breadmaking with keeping him sane during the pandemic and protests for racial justice.

“Spending time working with my hands, breaking bread, is an important part of self care,” said Cheeks.

On many sleepless nights this summer, Cheeks would spend hours in the kitchen: one loaf turned into two, then four, and soon, he was baking “too much bread.”

“I needed a lot of therapy, I guess,” Cheeks said, with a chuckle.

He wasn’t alone. Across the country, bakers were coming together, through a group called Bakers Against Racism, to sell their products and donate the proceeds to social justice organizations.

“This is a good overlap of why I’m spending my time baking bread. I sort of felt like I found my people,” Cheeks said.

So Cheeks decided to join in and create his own Instagram account, @BakingMo. Every week, he takes orders, bakes loaves, and donates the profits. Through breadmaking, he’s found a new passion, and moreover, a true purpose.

“What we’ve proved in 2020 is that America, and Madison for that matter, is ready to roll up its sleeves and make progress,” said Cheeks.

Each Tuesday, Cheeks announces a bread sale to followers of both his email list and Instagram account. Each loaf costs $8.

Customers Venmo Cheeks to secure their loaves and, based on those preorders, Cheeks starts baking. When he’s done, he sends customers his address for a socially-distanced pickup, scheduled for Thursdays between 2 and 7 p.m.

Cheeks donates 100% of his proceeds to organizations including the ACLU and Black Voters Matter.

Click here to follow @bakingmo on Instagram, or sign up for his email list on Cheek’s website, breadandjustice.org.