All of the money raised by Little Flour bake sales and classes supports baking classes for food insecure kids in St. Louis. Originally, most of these classes took place on Friday afternoons at the Drop In Center funded by Epworth Children and Family Services. Today that program has expanded well beyond my original baking program, and you might find me baking and teaching in any number of schools around St. Louis as a baking instructor for Operation Food Search’s nutrition education program. Whole grain baking classes are my favorite, with King Arthur Flour’s Kid’s Learn Bake & Share Blueberry Muffin recipe and my own pizza recipe competing in popularity!
But the Drop-In Center always holds a special place in my heart. The Center is located in the Normandy School District where thirty percent of kids are functionally homeless and many are “food insecure,” which means they live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis and as a result they struggle with hunger. In this environment it is critical to feed kids, and to feed them well. “Hot Food Friday,” as the program has been lovingly nicknamed by the kids, makes sure that everyone who walks in the door gets a hot, nutritious meal. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, protein. Its all there, and that meal matters, especially on a Friday afternoon when some kids will have even more limited access to food over the weekend. But the program is not just about feeding kids, its about empowering kids to feed themselves and their community-and to do it well. We don’t just feed kids, we teach them about nutrition and cooking and making good decisions about how to nourish themselves as they grow into self sustaining adults. Kids in our cooking classes make the meals for the larger community at the Drop In Center and get to share in the joy of cooking for someone else who is hungry.
One young chef at the Drop In Center told me that the part of the class he loves the most is watching the looks on the faces of the other kids when they see what we made for lunch that day. I’ve heard kids say the same thing over and over again in every environment. There is joy in eating but also in feeding, in being a part of a community and sharing what you’ve made with your own hands. That’s why I think sharing is the final and most important step of baking, no matter where I am teaching!