Brooklyn bakery gives former criminals chance at fresh life

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Angel Lopez hasn't had it easy, spending most of his life in and out of various foster homes. At just 14 years old, he found himself on the street selling drugs to earn cash to buy food.

It was bad, and then it was worse.

"I got shot a few times," Lopez recalled. "Everyday was like war."

Lopez ended up arrested and in jail, where he was able to reflect on his life.

Ten years later, he found himself at the DOE Fund, living in a shelter and working in their bakery with other men who had similar pasts.

Dishes by Doe is run by Peter Bessent, a former drug dealer and gang member who worked his way up to head baker over the course of eight years.

"For some people, it's hard, but that is just an excuse " Bessent said. "If you want to make a change in your life, you need to go for it."

Bessent begins each day long before most people, with his alarm going off shortly after midnight. By 2 a.m., he and his staff are already prepping the dough for baking various treats. They specialize in breads, cookies, brownies and so much more.

Those items are then packaged and transported to various farmers' markets around the city, where they are sold.

Gino Dalesandro is the director of food services and said the sales from the farmers' markets help pay for the organization, as well as the salaries for these men.

"When they are inspired, they want change," Dalesandro said. "And then you give them that opportunity to work through that change."

You can follow the bakers on Instagram at @dishesbydoe.

For more information on where their farmers' markets are located, click here.

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