Thursday, April 4, 2013

In the News

Home Baking Association’s Recipe for Success

Home Baking Association
Here’s one positive effect of the recession: Americans have been returning to the kitchen, saving money while rediscovering the pleasures of home-cooked meals. It’s safe to say no one finds the trend more gratifying than the educators, nutrition experts, and corporate members of the Home Baking Association (HBA).

“Our mission is simple: to grow the practice of home baking,” says Charlene Patton, executive director of the Topeka, Kansas–based nonprofit organization. The HBA pursues that mission by developing recipes, videos, classroom activities, and lesson plans for teachers and families. It has 38 corporate members—including C&H Sugar—and reaches some 1.5 million consumer educators and more than 25 million students and their households.

Today’s HBA has come a long way since its beginnings in 1923 as the Soft Wheat Millers Association, created to address public concern about chemical additives used in flour. The group developed a quality seal for packaging and bought ad space to reassure shoppers. Ten years later, the group expanded beyond flour millers to include flour blenders; in 1959 the organization became incorporated and changed its name to the Self-Rising Flour and Cornmeal Program, Inc.

Charlene with kids and Baking with Friends cookbook
Home baking began declining in the 1960s, when more women entered the workforce, more microwave ovens entered homes, and fast-food restaurants spread across the country. The struggling institute joined forces with the Millers’ National Federation in Chicago and by the 1980s became the last nonprofit, generic communications organization promoting baking at home.

In 1989, the group changed its focus and invited ingredient and equipment companies to join. It changed its name to Home Baking Association, Inc., and announced the focus it maintains today: increasing home baking through education.

Charlene Patton, who has degrees in family and consumer sciences and business, came to the HBA more than 10 years ago to join with education program and membership director Sharon Davis, a licensed family and consumer sciences teacher. They work with classroom teachers, after-school centers, and youth groups such as scouting organizations, 4-H clubs, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We’ll work with any organization that has an interest in home baking!” says Charlene. The HBA has a modest annual budget of $250,000; member dues and in-kind donations, such as sugar from C&H Sugar, help pay for supplies and teaching materials.

Sharon with kids baking
HBA also makes money through the sale of DVDs, index-card substitution guides, and a 2010 cookbook, Baking with Friends. Co-written by Charlene and Sharon and illustrated with Coleen McIntyre’s colorful, kid-friendly watercolors, the book includes activities, vocabulary words, and a bonus 60-minute CD for kids with additional tips and stories.

Nearly 250,000 viewers visit HBA’s website, a section of which is dedicated to educator resources: lessons, activity plans, kitchen-safety advice, a whimsically designed baking certificate that can be awarded to students. The site includes recipes and a helpful glossary of baking terms, from “absorption” to “zest.” And don’t miss the videos on HBA’s Home Baking Channel, where you can watch experienced bakers make pizza, focaccia, corn bread, and more!

You can follow HBA on Facebook and Twitter. For updates about HBA, sign up to receive the organization’s newsletter, delivered each month to your email in-box.

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