Citizens Journal
Wed Sep 06 2023

Baking a difference: Stand Pie Me empowering special needs with pies & quiches

Human Rights
This article features :

Originally published on Citizen’s Journal Published: Sept 4, 2023

Stand Pie Me: A unique bakery with a social mission. Discover how they empower young adults with special needs through delicious pies.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Klang Valley, a simple kitchen with a commendable twist is quietly underway. Enter “Stand Pie Me“, a unique social enterprise that goes beyond its delicious creations, offering employment, training, and mentorships for young adults with special needs.

Sarjit Singh, the chairperson of Persatuan Stand, and two other board members stand at the frontline of the daily operations at “Stand Pie Me,” ensuring the production line runs smoothly, managing accounting, orders, and deliveries.

Their efforts create a space where individuals with special needs not only find a place of belonging but also receive the necessary skills, providing a pathway for personal and professional growth.

From straws to pies: The journey of Persatuan STAND

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Persatuan STAND, which is an acronym for Skills, Talents, Acceptance, Needs, Destiny, started its journey in 2011, doing consignment work packing straws for a beverage distributor and takeaway sauce and serviette packs for a fast-food chain managed by its then chairperson, Pastor Lee Hock Cheng.

Sarjit met Pastor Lee and learned what he was doing to provide employment for special needs youth and adults. He was invited to join Stand as vice-chairperson.

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Sarjit and his wife, Oretha, have a son with dyslexia, so they understand the needs of children who learn differently.

When Pastor Lee retired, Sarjit became chairman in 2020. He steered Stand to what it is today: a bakery making pies, quiches, and tarts for sale to the public and at corporate functions.

From humble beginnings to culinary success

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The decision to venture into baking was a strategic one. Sarjit believed that food was the ideal avenue for special needs youth and adults. Their innate precision and affinity for routine made baking, with its strict adherence to recipes, a perfect fit.

“It started with a Church’s parent’s group, who were baking pies, cakes, and muffins and cooking spaghetti, fried rice, and other items of food for international schools and catering to special orders with their special needs children in the Church at first and then to rented premises.

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“I come from an F&B background, and I thought food was the way to go for special needs youth and adults because they excel in precision and routine, and so baking, which relies on strict adherence to recipes, was the way to go,” Sarjit revealed.

Through its bakery in Puchong, Stand Pie Me sells the pies to the public via online orders to schools and receives orders from companies for their events.

Stand Pie Me: A vision for expansion

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Currently, “Stand Pie Me” employs 11 individuals with special needs who earn a salary, two paid volunteers, and one certified job coach to assist with its operations.

When asked about the direction he envisions for Stand Pie Me, Sarjit shared, “What I want to do with “Stand Pie Me” is to open a few establishments in other states so that they can hop into our organization and do what we are doing here.”

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“However, I am still considering the way forward to do this: either to open Stand Pie Me as a franchise, assist other similar charities and social enterprises to run bakeries like ours at other locations, or open Stand Pie Me branches where it would benefit those with special needs communities,” he added.

“But I have to ensure the success of the current operations first before I think about embarking on an expansion programme,” he continued.

Despite their efforts, “Stand Pie Me”, which produces between 150 to 180 pies daily, still operates in the red.

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Sarjit acknowledges the tightrope he walks while balancing their goals as a social enterprise, expressing his hopes that “Stand Pie Me” will expand and grow to reach a point where they break even.

Despite its commendable efforts, “Stand Pie Me” currently operates at a loss. Sarjit Singh acknowledges the challenges of balancing their social enterprise goals but holds hope that, with continued support, “Stand Pie Me” will eventually break even and continue making a difference in the lives of those they serve.

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by malaysiakini

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