by Tara Morgan
Teenagers rarely do back flips before hundreds of their peers for loaves of bread. But Job Corps students aren’t your typical disaffected teenagers and Dave’s Killer Bread isn’t your run-of-the-mill bread.
Dave’s Killer Bread is a Milwaukie, Ore.-based company famous for its whole-grain, organic sliced breads. Dave’s mustachioed, guitar-wielding cartoon visage graces every loaf—from the Spelt loaf to the Good Seed to the Rockin’ Rye.
On a recent overcast afternoon, hundreds of mostly male students, ages 16-24, piled into the chilly auditorium at the Centennial Job Corps Center in Nampa. Their excitement was palpable—loud hoots and hollers echoed through the bleachers as Dave’s Killer Bread Founder Dave Dahl took to the microphone, biceps bulging under a faded T-shirt.
Dahl spoke candidly about his transition from being a drug addict who was flung in and out of prison for crimes like burglary and armed robbery to being a successful business owner.
After the speech, hands shot up, asking insightful questions like, “What has been your capacity for personal relationships after you got out of prison?” A number of show-offs also offered to juggle or do The Worm in exchange for a free loaf of bread.
Job Corps is a program that provides educational and vocational training to at-risk students at 124 campuses nationwide.
“It’s for young people that need a place to better their lives, get an education, learn a vocation or a trade and then go back out and contribute to society,” explained Center Director Michelle Woods. “We also have them do community service, they learn about interpersonal skills, employability skills.”
At a post-speech bread baking session with 25 or so Job Corps students, Dahl demonstrated how to make a special version of his Sin Dawg cinnamon roll. Students spread sweet filling on doughy discs and rolled them in a special blend of organic seeds. Culinary student Dustin Page was particularly motivated by the whole experience.
“I was especially inspired because I was actually a meth addict for a while,” said Page. “I was homeless for about four months before I decided to come here, and since I got here I’ve had no regrets ever coming here. I love it here actually.”
Though Dahl didn’t initially intend to spend his free time giving inspirational speeches to at-risk youth, he now relishes in the opportunity.
“To tell this story is good for my business,” said Dahl. “I really believe that a business, especially someone in my position, should be giving back and planting good seeds. That’s what I’m about.”
Watch Dave show off his baking skills and talk about his pending, Folsom Prison-esque return to speak at the Snake River Correctional Institution, where he previously spent hard time.