What I Learned From the Muffin Man

This post was co-authored by Jacob "Muffin Man" Kaufman, based in the glorious and rapidly-gentrifying burrito mecca of San Francisco, is a lover, a fighter, a baker, a writer, a tour guide, a dancer, a lawyer, and a Cancer. He still doesn't understand how to use Twitter, or a touch-tone phone.

It's been said that food is the way to somebody's heart. On January 26th, it will be the donation of food (muffins, to be precise) that will warm our hearts (and the bellies of hungry strangers).

This year, National Muffin Day falls on a Monday, January 26, making for awesome alliteration on Muffin Monday. I'm teaming up with Jacob to make this National Muffin Day extra sweet.

San Francisco-based Jacob has been handing out homemade muffins to hungry folks on his Monday walk to work down Market Street for over a year now. He estimates that in that time he has handed out over 1,200 fist-sized mounds of goodness -- that's over 500 cups of sugar, 2,000 cups of flour and a mountain of butter the size of a 1977 Buick. Although baking on Sunday night can be difficult, it is always worth the time in the kitchen for the smiles and kind words Jacob receives in return on Monday morning. Today, some hungry people on Market Street now recognize Jacob, laughing and saying "Here comes the Muffin Man!" as he approaches.

"It's especially nice to be treated as a human being," Jacob was told last week by a man with long flowing hair, baggy pants, a shoelace for a belt and a huge bump on his head. This is one of many thoughtful bites of wisdom Jacob has received in his weekly muffin runs. Last year during Dreamforce, a conference hosted by Salesforce.com, a businessman attending from out of town followed Jacob for several blocks during a Monday muffin distribution before stopping him and stating, "I learned something from you today." Jacob thanked him and replied, "you didn't learn anything today that you didn't already know."

When Jacob shared this story with me as I interviewed him for my blog Why We Give (on the phone of course, because I'm located in New York), I realized I couldn't just publish Jacob's profile, I needed to contribute to his cause. So, with National Muffin Day approaching at the end of the month, we took it upon ourselves to launch a campaign to get as many people worldwide into the Muffin Man spirit as possible.

To facilitate this, Jacob committed to donate $10 to Project Homeless Connect, a San Francisco-based charity that helps the needy. For every person who bakes muffins and distributes them to the hungry on National Muffin Day, Jacob will make a charitable gift. After making this proclamation on the Internet, other benevolent bakers have offered to make similar donations to other charities focused on fighting hunger.

So, here we are, two friends (although we have never met and only became aware of each others existences three weeks ago, this has been quite the bonding experience). Three time zones apart, challenging our friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and the rest of the world to create the sweetest, tastiest muffins the world has ever known and give them to whose who need muffin love the most. That having been said, you are all cordially invited to join us on National Muffin Day this January 26! Bake muffins and hand them out to the hungry folks in your cities! Organize a baking party at your home or at a community kitchen! Ask your local bakery to donate their delicious breakfast confections! Spread the muffin word on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tinder account!

In our Facebook event page, we're posting recipes, actively recruiting bakers and setting our spatulas high with expectations, hoping for celebrity chefs, food bloggers, bakeries, grocery stores and any ordinary philanthropist who cares about making an impact on their local community to bake and give.

We're already receiving help from a number of generous sponsors. Greyston Bakery, a New York-based social enterprise bakery known for hiring people to bake brownies (specifically, the ones in Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream) will be participating by not only baking, but sweetening the deal by donating a few boxes of cookies to randomly selected bakers who participate. Hayes Valley Bakeworks and The Pastry Cupboard, the two bakeries closest to Jacob's apartment, are also providing support. San Francisco tech company Asana has graciously donated their kitchen for baking for the big day.

So, will you be the muffin man or woman in your city? The one who walks down your Drury Lane, or Market Street, or 8th Avenue? Maybe you'll learn something in the process. But it won't be anything that you didn't already know.

To participate, simply bake a dozen or so muffins, hand them out to hungry people in your community, take a photo, and share on your social media channel of choice with the hashtag #givemuffins. We look forward to seeing your inspiring, mouth-watering, heartwarming photos!