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A West Side entrepreneur wants to share a little sweetness to help everybody make it through the coronavirus crisis.

Undeterred by the statewide shutdown, the Lawndale resident is taking orders for fresh cookies, cakes and other baked goods to help neighbors feeling lonely and stressed.

Sandra Crowder had been working on starting her bakery service for some time before the public health crisis. She did a 13-week culinary program at Inspiration Kitchens and a business course through the New Covenant Community Development Corporation, but struggled to find the time to build her business while working full-time.

But when the school she works at closed its doors, she decided to make use of her time away from work to pour herself into her business and use her baking skills to spread joy through the community.

“I want to cheer people up,” Crowder said.

And nothing can brighten somebody’s day like a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie, so Crowder began selling all kinds of baked goods for $12 a dozen. Her business, A Taste of Nostalgia, offers old school classic cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and butter pecan, as well varieties like lemon drop and ginger snap. Crowder also does more intricate desserts like German chocolate cakes, drunken cupcakes and pineapple coconut cakes, which she said were popular for parties and events before the lockdown.

“You name it, I do it,” she said.

Crowder had lined up a series of vendor fairs and markets where she was planning to sell her baked goods, and had already bought flour and sugar in bulk to make her desserts for them before all events were canceled. So she decided to turn lemons into lemon tarts by using the ingredients to sell baked goods to Chicagoans stuck at home hungry for something tasty.

“My goal is to get my business up and running so I can give back to the community,” she said.

And now that she has more time to spend on her baking, she is refining her business plan, designing a website and building up a customer base. She’s also been experimenting with items for her menu like plant-based vegan cookies. In a few years, she hopes to have a brick-and-mortar storefront as more small businesses come back to the area.

But for now, Crowder’s baked goods can be picked up at her Lawndale home or delivered to residents of the West Side.

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