After all of the day’s orders are packed, Pedro Buendia bags up the extra bread made at Tom Cat Bakery and hands it over to a driver for City Harvest, a local food rescue organization. City Harvest trucks deliver Tom Cat Bakery’s artisanal hamburger buns, batards, ciabatta, miche and baguettes as well as food donated by other companies and restaurants to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries and community programs in all five boroughs.


It’s a task Buendia relishes. “We work hard to make sure that all of our customers get the bread they need when they need it. It feels really good that every single day the bread we make also helps people who need more than they have,” said Buendia, who moved to New York from El Salvador 11 years ago and became a packer at Tom Cat before working his way up to packing supervisor.


Donating to the community has been part of Tom Cat Bakery’s DNA since it began 30 years ago as one of the founders of the artisan bakery movement. Tom Cat has thrived because of its conviction that people are the heart of its business. Tom Cat is inspired by artisan bread – hand-crafted and hearth-baked – and the people who make, deliver and serve it.


Every day the bakery makes and donates 15 percent more bread than needed. Since 1997, the bakery has given more than 3.1 million pounds of bread to feed hungry New Yorkers. The bakery donates to others as well, from its local firehouse and Transportation Alternatives to the Children’s AID Society.


Tom Cat’s passion to make the world a better place extends to its employees, to whom it provides industry-leading salaries and exceptional benefits, supporting their opportunity to succeed as part of the New York City community the bakery calls home. A significant majority of the bakery’s employees are minorities, representing a microcosm of Long Island City’s diverse population. Many are immigrants, three of whom are part of the management team. Buendia sought opportunity in New York and found it in Tom Cat Bakery, and in turn appreciates the chance to help others. “Tom Cat Bakery supported me and helped me make a career in this country,” he said. “And it’s nice to know that I am helping prepare food for people who are hungry and need something to eat.”