Stefan Hard / Staff Photo Stefan Hard / Staff Photo Nutty Steph’s activist owner Jaquelyn Rieke poses Tuesday with Pride Bars and some of the ingredients that go into the bars created by the Middlesex chocolatier to help raise funds the LGBT community thr

Sales of chocolate bar to benefit LGBTQ community - Times Argus

MIDDLESEX — A local chocolatier aims to raise money for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.

Nutty Steph’s Pride Bar was released two weeks ago, with proceeds to benefit the Pride Center of Vermont, a community center dedicated to advancing the health and safety of the LGBTQ community.

Pride Bar, subtitled “Love Sweet Love,” contains 71 percent dark chocolate, is accented with pure lemon oil and loaded with organic salted pecans and crystallized ginger.

“I’m always so concerned about legal representation for people that are mistreated, discriminated against, beaten, killed, who are transgender or alternative sexuality,” said Nutty Steph’s owner Jaquelyn Rieke. “I think having the advocacy center that works legally for people and also for emotional support is important.”

She said the bar blossomed out of her desire to continue the momentum Nutty Steph’s had with its Bernie Bar. Those bars, out last year, were created to inspire activism in support of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

“(Sanders) spoke so unabashedly about the need for more aggressive social justice in the country,” Rieke said.

Because as a business Nutty Steph’s could not give money to the Bernie Sanders campaign, it held at least 15 campaign phone banking sessions in the Middlesex business space.

This summer, Rieke began brainstorming other chocolate bar ideas that could help with social issues.

“(Nutty Steph’s) approached us and said that they want make a bar to help us out,” said Kim Fountain, executive director for the Pride Center of Vermont. “It was around the time that Orlando happened.”

In June, a mass shooting took the lives of 49 people and wounded 53 inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The tragedy has been called a hate crime against the LGBTQ community.

Fountain said the Pride Bars have proven to be extremely popular. People have been ordering the bars in bulk to hand out to their friends and promote them on social media.

“Before they went on sale, people were asking us how they can get them,” said Fountain. “It has taken off via social media and in different shops in a way that I don’t think any of us expected.”

Rieke said sales of the bar have raised $336 as of Tuesday morning. She aims to reach $5,000.

This type of donation is called unrestricted funding, versus a grant where the money must focus on something specific. Fountain said proceeds from the Pride Bar will fund different programs and issues. It may fund mentoring for people going through transition-related processes. She said it might also pay for work with older LGBTQ adults and the Pride Center’s disabilities program.

The Pride Bar is available at Cornucopia Foods in Northampton, Massachusetts, as well as in stores all over Vermont, including the Nutty Steph’s retail store at the MiddleGround artisan community in Middlesex, and is also available at a discount by the case at nuttystephs.com.

gina.tron @timesargus.com

http://www.timesargus.com/article/20160907/NEWS01/160909755

Jaquelyn Rieke