When Bakers Are Heroes

March 14, 2022

Resisting the Russians, one loaf at a time.

A few years ago, I saw some footage of an industrial bakery in Syria that was churning out rounds of much-needed pita bread while fighting raged around it. That scene stuck with me, reminding me that the industry I cover is truly a vital business.

The fighting in Syria, of course, was and is being enabled by Vladimir Putin. Now comes a tale of another heroic baker during another Putin-enabled conflict.

CNN recently ran this profile of Pavlo Servetnyk, a baker in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. Servetnyk had owned a popular pizza restaurant, but when war came, he converted it to a bakery, making loaves as simply as possible, with only flour, yeast, water and salt. He has enlisted other bakers in the city, and he drives around the empty streets with his daily load of bread, handing out loaves to the many hungry people who need them.

What made this story especially touching to me is how Servetnyk understands his role and mission in the war. He recounted to CNN how hearing a tank firing made him realize that he would help his fellow Ukrainians better with bread, not bullets. As he says: “I understood that everybody must go about his own business. Military should fight and bakers should bake bread and help people.”

I only hope no one on the wrong side reads about Servetnyk and gets any ideas. Putin’s forces are perfectly willing to shell hospitals and schools; I doubt their consciences would be troubled by taking out a bakery.

Please, read the whole thing. It’s enraging yet heartening, like most of the coverage from there.

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