Hunger 101: Teaching Humanitarians In The Classroom

Education Nutrition
WFP/Micah Albert

How do you teach students in Kansas about the chronic hunger that plagues their peers in Kenya?

Teachers can start with official Classroom Lesson Plans designed by WFP. Developed in partnership with the Alabama 4-H Program, Auburn University, the Cape Breton University Children’s Rights Centre and the Canadian International Development Agency, these lesson plans offer a wide variety of approaches tailored to specific age groups.

For students in Grades 4-6, for example, one activity utilizes the image of a tree to help them understand the many roots of hunger through critical thinking, visualization and collaborative learning.

Junior high students, on the other hand, can create a mock U.N. conference that addresses child malnutrition and how it relates to children’s rights, based on their study of the Millennium Development Goals and of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Teachers can also utilize our True/False pop quiz, What Do You Know About Hunger?, which challenges commonly held myths about poverty and nutrition.

But first, let’s begin with the basics:

Q: What is hunger?

The sensation of hunger—a lack of food in your stomach—is universal. But there are different types of hunger that are measured in different ways:

Under-nourishment is used to describe a condition where one’s food intake lacks enough calories (energy) to meet minimum needs for an active life.

Malnutrition is characterized by inadequate consumption of protein, energy and micronutrients and by frequent infections and diseases. Malnutrition is measured not by how much food is eaten, but by physical measurements of the body—weight, height and age.

Wasting is an indicator of acute malnutrition that reflects a recent and severe process that has led to substantial weight loss. This is usually the result of starvation and/or disease.

There are more than 800 million undernourished people in the world, which means 1 in 9 people will go to bed hungry tonight.

Q: Why does hunger exist? Is there a food shortage in the world?

There is enough food in the world for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life. Each year, 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste—about ⅓ of all food produced for human consumption.

Hunger is not about a shortage of food, it’s about power, inequality and access to resources. Hunger feeds on poverty, conflict and natural disaster.

Global hunger is one of the greatest solvable problems of our time. Each year, hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

By educating the next generation of humanitarian heroes in the classroom, teachers in the U.S. can help create a brighter future for everyone.