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Bakers around the world are holding a giant virtual bake sale to combat racism

Chefs and home bakers from around the world are participating in a virtual bake sale to raise money for social justice causes.
/ Source: TODAY

Bake sales are a tried-and-true way to help students, parents and community leaders raise money for school events and charitable organizations. Starting today, however, bakers from around the world are hosting thousands of virtual bake sales — and the majority of proceeds will be donated to organizations that support Black Lives Matter causes.

Bakers Against Racism was the brainchild of Paola Velez, a James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef, pastry chef Willa Lou Pelini and chef Rob Rubba. On June 4, the trio posted a graphic on Instagram, along with a call to action for baking professionals and home cooks.

"CALLING ALL BAKERS, CHEFS, HOME BAKERS & COOKS!!!!!!!!! @bakersagainstracism is a call to action: to fight and stand up against the unjust treatment of BLACK people in the United States. We are armed to fight racism with the tools we know how to utilize, our FOOD," Velez posted.

The response has reached bakers far beyond the United States. On June 9, the movement's official account shared that the concept had reached 2,400 participants from 42 states (over 170 cities in the U.S.) and 15 countries.

On Monday, bakers around the world launched their own individual order pages. Depending on the size and capabilities of the business participating, some orders will be delivered, while others will be available for pickup on June 20.

The Bakers Against Racism website describes the virtual bake sale as a movement by “everyone who wants to see radical change,” and that this event open to a wide variety of bakers. Participants are being asked to make at least 150 baked dessert items for the sale. Bakers must then donate a “majority” of the proceeds from their sales to some sort of charity or organization that supports Black lives.

However, many bakers have committed to donating all proceeds from any funds raised this week.

"Lots of more established bakeries are doing something more traditional — e.g. '50% of our proceeds this week will be donated to a certain group.' But since I don't have the capacity for that in my tiny apartment, I decided to put this spin on it," Bethany Perskie, a lawyer by day and amateur baker by night based in Brooklyn, New York, told TODAY via email.

Perskie is planning to post about a new treat on Instagram at 2 p.m. every day this week and the "baked good of the day goes to the first person to donate at least $50 to one of the organizations listed." This week, she'll be making several treats including Oreo-fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies and salted caramel blondies.

"I'm hoping more people will donate than just the first person every day, but this should raise a minimum of $250 total for those three organizations," she said. She is also planning to match a portion of the donations at the end of the week.

Laura Scherb, who is based in Chicago, runs a food photography and styling business, as well as a food blog called Page & Plate. This week, she's making homemade Pop-Tarts and donating 100% of the proceeds to My Block My Hood My City, an organization in The Windy City that provides opportunity awareness training to underprivileged youth.

Said Scherb, "It's been a tough few months, and the idea of selling sweet treats to raise money for an organization that's doing tangible good in my community seemed perfect."

Chefs in Colorado, Oregon and New York City all told TODAY Food that they would be donating 100% of their bake sale proceeds to causes that help support Black lives and communities.

Elana Berusch owns Three Seeds Bakery in Denver. This week, she's selling a box filled with an assortment of cookies for every taste bud (including lavender-sugar cookies, chocolate-almond Italian rainbow cookies and strawberry-rhubarb shortbread bars), with all proceeds being donated to the Black Food & Justice Alliance, a group working to empower Black farmers and food producers.

Before Bakers Against Racism, Berusch had also been auctioning off cakes to Denver residents. "I match the winning bid 100% and all proceeds go to nonprofits working for and with Black communities," said Berusch. "Because I put political messages on the cakes, it also opens the door for conversation between some of my white followers and I, where we can discuss white privilege and how we benefit from systematic racism."

The first cake raised $300 for the Colorado Freedom Fund; the second raised $170 for The Okra Project.

To find more bakers participating in the virtual bake sale, follow the #bakersagainstracism.