The ultimate bake-and-give: King Arthur's Life Skills Bread Baking Program

You already know that here at King Arthur Flour, we love to share the joy of baking. But did you know that each year, we teach thousands of school kids how to bake bread and encourage them to donate some to people in need in their communities?

Last school year, our Life Skills Bread Baking Program® visited 100 schools primarily in the East and Midwest; taught more than 21,000 students; and facilitated the donation of more than 15,500 loaves – and this year we’re going even bigger!

That’s right. This year, senior Life Skills instructor Paula Gray and our newest instructor, Pam Jensen, will bring our Life Skills program to schools from coast to coast. We’ll visit a minimum of 120 schools nationwide – in fact, after training together here in Vermont recently, Paula and Pam kicked off the school year just last week with several schools around San Francisco.

The Life Skills program was started in 1992 as a way to share the tradition of home baking; teach kids to nourish themselves and their families, and encourage them to get involved in their communities. After all, baking and sharing go hand in hand; the word “companion” derives from the Latin for “bread.”

Plus, baking is a great way for kids to practice reading and comprehension, and to learn about real world applications for math and science – all while having fun and making something healthy and delicious.

Here’s how the Life Skills Bread Baking Program works: Teaching to an audience of students in grades 4, 5, 6 and/or 7, one of our great instructors and two student assistants present a 50-minute demonstration on the bread-baking process.

Then, each future baker takes home materials, including our nutritious whole-grain flour, and the know-how to get baking.

Students keep one delicious loaf to enjoy, and donate the other to a community organization chosen by the school. We bring the program to schools free of cost.

Paula Gray has been teaching for us for more than 5 years, and her passion for teaching kids about baking has been a key part of the program’s growth and success.

“The program has three goals: To teach kids the skill of baking bread; to get kids and their families baking together at home, and to give back to the community. It’s an equation that really works,” Paula says. “I really believe in the purpose of the Life Skills program, so that makes it easy for me to be excited about bringing it to schools. I love going into a school, getting the kids excited, and then seeing what happens. What makes it really wonderful is when the school teachers and administration are enthusiastic about it, too.”

If you are a teacher, administrator, parent, or friend of children in grades 4 through 7 anywhere in the U.S. and can enthusiastically support and promote the Life Skills program in your school, we want to hear from you! You’ll find everything you need – including the Life Skills Manual for teachers, program application, and videos – on our Life Skills page.

And if you’re feeling inspired to bake – and maybe give – a nice loaf of soft whole-grain sandwich bread, please read, rate, and review our recipe for Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.

Allison Furbish

Allison Furbish is a native of the Upper Valley, where King Arthur Flour is based, and an avid lifelong baker especially enthusiastic about anything chocolate.


  1. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez

    I loved this news specially because i´m envolved in a similar project here, where i´ll participate of an annual gastronomic show, with work-shops of baking skills at three local comunities here in my city, plus baking christmas treats.
    I really believe in this kind of efforts to promote baking skills spreadabling all over any earth´s regions.

    The event i´ll participate is

  2. lishy

    This is such an amazing program, and I wish my children could participate. Alas we are a homeschooling family. Would it be possible to arrange this program for a group of homeschooling families rather than at an elementary school? I know a large group of homeschoolers that would really be interested in this.

    I’ll pass your message along to our Life Skills program coordinators – they may be able to work something out. Thanks for your interest! -Allison@KAF

  3. ednliz

    This sounds like a great program. I wish there had been something like this when I was that age. Nobody in my family baked bread; cakes, cookies, brownies, pies – yes, but not bread.

    My mom got interested when bread machines became popular but she didn’t bake bread regularly. Eventually, she gave me her bread machine and I fell in love with bread baking. I don’t do it all that much – there isn’t a lot of counter space to put the machine. But I love to use the dough cycle and bake the loaf in a regular bread pan.

    I once tried hand kneading bread dough – it was a disaster. Without an experienced mentor, I had no clue if my dough had enough/too much flour, water, yeast, etc. The bread machine solved that problem but I would still like to get my hands on some dough sometime.

    By all means, now that you know what the “touch” for the dough is, thanks to your machine, we encourage you to get your hands in there. It’s wonderful to see and feel how the dough changes as you work with it. Susan

  4. deniseebr

    What a wonderful program!! I think all schools should have something like this. It teaches so many wonderful things! I’m going to talk to some teachers I know and see if they would be interested in this.

    Thanks so much for taking the time, expense and effort to do this!

    I’ve met people when doing our Traveling Baking Demos who first heard of us through these Life Skills programs many years before. It’s one of the greatest ways to connect to kids I know. I’m proud of our commitment to teaching baking. Susan

  5. Melissa C

    Wow, what a wonderful program! another reason to LOVE KAF. I have family members as teachers and from their stories I am saddened to hear how few activities and opportunities many children have at home. When asked to name what they did over the weekend many kids have little to say beyond playing video games or watching TV – even if prompted with ideas: Did you read a book? visit your grandma?…. When I was growing up in a low-income apartment complex some of the stay-at-home moms organized activities in their homes – cookie making, simple crafts, etc. that got the kids doing something other than watching TV. I was lucky. I am glad you are expanding and hope more schools will take part.


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