SYRACUSE -- Baking bread is making a comeback in this economy, so Vermont-based King Arthur Flour, America's oldest flour company, is kneading its way into the bread revival by educating students across the nation.
On Tuesday the students were fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from Buffalo Point Elementary in Syracuse.
Not only does baking bread help with a tight budget, but consumers are also becoming more interested in what is going into their food, said Allison Furbish, media relations coordinator for King Arthur Flour.
"Baking bread is a great way to take control of the nutritional value, where you can make a whole-grain bread that meets your palate's needs, or can customize your baking to fit your desires or other dietary needs," said Furbish. However, many shy away from the prospect because making yeast bread can be tricky, which is exactly what Richard Baird, principal at Buffalo Point Elementary, discovered.
"I've been trying to become more diverse and tried learning how to make bread, but I haven't been very good at it," said Baird.
So when he found out about the free bread-baking program offered by King Arthur Flour, Baird couldn't wait to have their representative come to his school and share its knowledge with his students.
Recently, King Arthur Flour has discovered an overwhelming number of students who have never made yeast bread, or who have only baked with their grandparents.
In an effort to bring baking back into kitchens and fill in the gap between generations, King Arthur Flour is on a mission to expand home baking.
Megan Arrington, a fifth-grader at Buffalo Point Elementary, is a classic example. She has only watched her grandmother bake bread.
"I'm excited, because now I can actually make it with my grandma," Megan said.
Baking bread for the 400 students participating in the presentation became an actual homework assignment. Students were sent home with ingredients donated by King Arthur Flour and the recipe for making two loaves of bread, one of which will come back to school with them and be presented to the Family Connection Center Food Bank in Layton.
"It feels good to get something, but how much better does it feel to give something," said Pam Jensen, the King Arthur instructor conducting the presentation.
"We don't think about our neighbors that don't have bread because we can't see it on their faces."
For Jensen, teaching the students about baking bread is important because a lot of kids these days think bread comes off the shelf at the grocery store or in the shape of a bun at a fast food restaurant.
Jered Hardy, a sixth-grader, was looking forward to going home and using the ingredients.
"I think it will probably be kind of hard, but I'm looking forward to trying it on my own and seeing if I can make it good," Jered said.
Additionally, the program provides a great way for kids to apply skills they have already learned in school, such as the science of how yeast interacts with other ingredients, using their math skills with fractions when measuring out the ingredients, and encouraging good reading comprehension.
King Arthur Flour continues to increase in the number of schools its instructors visit.
When the program began in 1992, it started with five schools. Last year, the program made it to 80 schools.
The company recently added two more instructors nationwide, including Jensen, who is based in Pleasant Grove, so the company could make it to the 120 schools it is visiting this year.