Brothers spreading the dough for charity
The four are the top executives of Migwang Food. The company president, Kim Yong-ju; vice-president, Yong-jae; its factory manager, Yong-taek and its executive director, Yong-cheol, have been giving out bread to 10 centers for underprivileged children and elderly citizens since the early 1990s. The company provides around 1,000 baked goods a week to these centers.
The loaves donated are not leftovers and are not expired. Kim Yong-taek said the bread loaves that are sent to the centers are included in the company’s daily production output.
The kind of bread that is delivered to each facility differs. Centers for young children or the elderly receive softer bread, such as sponge cakes, which are easily digested. To avoid giving the same person the same thing every day, different types such as red-bean paste bread, glutinous rice bread and sandwiches are delivered.
“We make sure that the type of bread sent the day before is not sent again the next day,” said Yong-cheol, who is in charge of the deliveries.
A director at Mudeung Orphanage in Gwangju, Kim Jong-in, said that every Saturday afternoon, the company sends enough bread for 128 children, which adds a bit of variety to their meals.
Hwasungun Food Bank, a company that distributes food to welfare centers, also receives 120 to 130 loaves of bread every Monday from Migwang Food.
The director of Chunhye Home for Senior Citizens said, “[Migwang Food] has shown us unfailing loyalty by sending us their ‘gift bread’ for the past 15 years.”
Even amid all the appreciation, few of the people who receive the bread recognize Yong-ju’s face. He turns down all requests from people who want to express their gratitude because he doesn’t want to feel like he is “doing them a favor.”
“I don’t feel comfortable with making a fuss about this kind of thing,” he said.
The bread donation program became a fixture at the company once it solidified its finances in the late 1980s.
“We started looking around for charities we could be involved in around that time,” said Yong-cheol. “The company started to grow steadily from then on.”
But before then, when the company was struggling to survive, some employees were opposed to donating bread. The four brothers persuaded their workers to continue giving away the loaves and to cut costs in other ways.
Migwang Food had humble beginnings, starting in a residential area of Gwangju in 1978. At present, the company is moving along with 70 employees and 7 billion won ($7 million) in yearly profits. The company’s profit is due in part to its great variety of products; the factory produces about 40 different kinds of bread every day, most of which goes to supermarkets and snack booths around Gwangju city and the South Chungcheong and South Gyeongsang provinces. The company also makes enough hamburger bread to feed 25,000 soldiers in two shipments a week.
The brothers also have a factory in China specializing in rice cakes, which employs 90 people.
by Lee Hai-suk
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