Community giving is on the rise at 2 Ann Arbor elementaries

4th- and 5th-graders at Haisley, Eberwhite bake bread, share loaves

From AAPSNews Service

Fourth- and fifth-graders at Haisley and Eberwhite elementary schools have learned spirit of giving through homemade baking.

The King Arthur Flour Company, based in Norwich, Vt. visited the Ann Arbor schools last week to teach students to bake fresh, nutritious bread from scratch through its Life Skills Bread Baking Program. The program donates flour for  students to bake at home and donate some of their handiwork to community members in need.

Although King Arthur Flour has visited many schools around Michigan in the past, this is the company’s first visit to Ann Arbor, according to media spokeswoman Allison Furbish.

Haisley bakers
Haisley Elementary School students selected to be "student bakers" show classmates how to make fresh bread during the Life Skills Bread Baking Program sponsored by King Arthur Flour.

In a setting similar to a cooking school, King Arthur Senior Life Skills Instructor Paula Gray and two “student bakers” selected from each school demonstrated how to make a great loaf of bread at a simulated “kitchen.” Students learned the science of yeast action, math skills in measuring ingredients and reading comprehension by following the recipe. Another student at each school served as a media representative, taking photos of the events as part of the experience.

“Bread’s just like kids – every loaf is different,” explained Gray, a former teacher who now travels around the country for King Arthur’s school program. “If yours looks like brown, muddy water, smells bad and is kind of gross, that’s good,” she told students as they mixed their ingredients.

Beth Saenz, a teacher from Haisley Elementary School and Susan Haines, a teacher at Eberwhite Elementary School coordinated the visits to the Ann Arbor elementary schools. “I hope all of you feel inspired to bake bread at home,” Saenz told her students.

Eberwhite young bakers
Students at Eberwhite Elementary learn to bake fresh bread.

Parents at both school communities found out about the free King Arthur Flour program on the company’s website and the schools put in an application together to be considered for the program. Paula Brown, the PTO enrichment coordinator at Haisley, said she was pleased to have a program come to their school at no charge that she estimated would have normally cost the PTO about $300.

“One of our goals Is not only to complement the curriculum, but to give back to the community and learn about service,” she said. “For a company like King Arthur to do this program free, in this economy, it really says a lot.”

Brown said she also appreciated that the program encouraged a family experience of baking at home. “You can’t discount the importance of that,” she said.

‘One of our goals is not only to complement the curriculum, but to give back to the community and learn about service.’

– Paula Brown, Haisley PTO enrichment coordinator

Assemblies took place on Dec. 8 at Haisley in the morning and Eberwhite in the afternoon and the company also visited the Jackson area during their time in Michigan. Students will use their skills, along with ingredients donated by King Arthur Flour, to bake their own loaves at home – one to keep and one to donate. Haisley plans to donate its loaves to HERO of Washtenaw County during a special assembly today and Eberwhite’s loaves will go to the Bryant Community Center.

The King Arthur Flour Life Skills Bread Baking Program visits students in grades four through seven in schools across the country and in the past decade has taught more than 120,000 schoolchildren how to bake bread. The program stresses three elements: the school-based lesson, family time at home baking the bread with their families, then donation of a loaf to a local food pantry, homeless shelter or community organization.

King Arthur Flour also incorporates whole grains into the demonstration, teaching kids what whole grains are, why they’re important in a healthy diet, and how to use them in everyday baking. Each student receives bags of both King Arthur All-Purpose Flour and King Arthur 100 percent Organic White Whole Wheat Flour to help them bake healthy breads at home.

Gray said she loves teaching children the skill of bread baking – a hands-on way for kids to learn math, science, and cultural traditions all while having fun and learning about community service, too. “They’re learning the value and the joy of giving something back to the community,” she said. “Food pantries are delighted to have freshly baked homemade bread to offer the people they serve.”

“Human beings have been baking bread for some 10,000 years,” said King Arthur Flour Board Chairman Frank Sands, “but these days, fewer people are baking at home, so the tradition isn’t being handed down. We want to pass on this traditional life skill to the next generation.”

For more information about the Life Skills Bread Baking Program, visit King Arthur Bread online or call 802-299-2240.

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