Baking a Difference: Tennessee 4-Hers help those in “knead” through baking initiative

Young bakers learn valuable life skills while making a difference in their community through the Springfield, Tennessee 4-H program.

In Springfield, Tennessee, a group of young 4-Hers are learning more than just how to bake—they are also discovering the joys of giving back to their community. This heartwarming story unfolds as these budding bakers come together to create delicious bread and share it with those in need.

The recipe for this initiative comes from the renowned King Arthur Flour baking company, but the real magic happens when these children roll up their sleeves and dive into the world of hands-on baking. While there may be easier ways to churn out carbohydrates, for Levi Wix, one of the young bakers, the challenge is all part of the fun.

“Instead of cooking in a pan, it’s more hands-on, and that’s what I like about it,” Wix said, about kneading bread dough by hand.

As the students mix flour, water, salt and yeast, these youngsters find a sense of fulfillment in creating something from scratch, rather than settling for the convenience of store-bought options.

4-H agent Lauren Patterson emphasizes that this baking endeavor is not just about culinary skills.

“We really hope that they learn these great baking skills,” Patterson said. “Also, during this, we incorporate a lot of math because there’s fractions with baking.”

The children are encouraged to let their creativity shine through as they shape their doughy creations, exploring various techniques to make braided loaves, knots, as classic diner rolls in addition to straightforward boules.

However, the story does not end with baking alone. This initiative is also a heartwarming service project. Each child in the King Arthur Flour class bakes 16 pieces of bread and then gets to choose where their creations are donated. Half of all the bread created in these baking sessions will be donated to people in need. Blessing Boxes are among the possible recipients.

The baked goods shared through each Blessing Box offers a lifeline to those facing hardship in communities across Tennessee. The locations also provide other philanthropic-minded people in the community a place to leave donated items so that those in need can help themselves without shame.

“One of the things that they’re taught is responsibility and community service,” said Elizabeth Graves Fletcher, an organizer of the program, highlighting the values instilled in these young bakers. “I think they’ll like that aspect of giving it to neighbors, and we have a lot of blessing boxes around Robertson County, and I’m sure one of them will put it in a Blessing Box.”

For young participants like Raylee Phanco, the significance of their contribution is not lost on them.

“Some people don’t have stuff they need, like food,” Phanco said. “They need that to survive. I think we should give it to someone who actually needs it.”

These 4-Hers are not just learning to bake—they are also learning the power of compassion, community, and the art of making a difference one loaf of bread at a time.

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