Lesson Plans

Finding a Common Thread: How People Around the World Get Their Food

Image by Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.

Image by Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.

Introduction:

You may be able to last up to three weeks without food, but think of how much this might affect you: What kind of challenges would you and your community face if you were unable to access food? This question is being asked more and more as we learn about the impacts of climate change and development on our natural resources, as well as the ways that communities all over the world are losing access to fresh and healthy food based on where they live and how much money they make.

In the following lesson, we will explore challenges that communities face getting access to food from around the world, and the ways that communities are combating those challenges.

Objective:

Students will be able to...

  • Analyze reporting in order to evaluate challenges and solutions that people from around the world are engaging with when trying to access food.

Warm-up:

In small groups, or as a class, discuss the following questions:

  1. What are the types of food that you eat each day? How and where do you get your food? 
  2. When has it been hard for you to get access to this food? Why?
  3. How might your responses compare to other people in your neighborhood? Do they have an easy time accessing food?
  4. Do you think that everyone has access to food in the same way you do? How might your ability to access food compare to another state, country, or the world at large? 
  5. Predict: Why might it be hard for other people around the world to access food?

Activity: Exploring Global Stories

Below are four stories about challenges and solutions to accessing food around the world. The following PDF outlines important vocabulary that are needed to understand each individual story.

  1. First, read and discuss excerpts from two stories that explore challenges facing communities in Guatemala and Vietnam.
  2. Afterward, read and discuss excerpts from two stories about solutions that people are implementing to increase access to food.

As you read the four stories, answer the questions associated with each story on a separate sheet of paper. Prepare to share your responses with the class.

Challenges:

1. Outrage and Inspire by Roger Thurow for Outrage and Inspire 

Still image courtesy Roger Thurow. India, 2015.

Still image courtesy Roger Thurow. India, 2015.

Observe and Predict:

Observe this photo. (Still image courtesy of Roger Thurow. India, 2015) Write down three details that you see, two questions that you have, and one prediction about the challenge this story will discuss.

Explore the Story: 

Listen to this Outrage and Inspire podcast episode, A Craving for Nutrition Knowledge. If you want to listen to this audio recording in smaller pieces, the following is a rough breakdown of the time frame in which specific content falls that can support more targeted listening:

  • Listen from 00:00-2:00 to learn more about the background of malnutrition in Guatemala. 
  • Listen to 2:00-5:00 to learn about the Nutrition Rehabilitation course that is being taught to mothers in this community.
  • Listen to 5:00-9:00 to learn about the challenges and frustrations that these mothers face in accessing food for their families and children. 

Write and Discuss:

  1. What are the main challenges that these mothers are facing when trying to access healthy food for their children? What happens when children are unable to access health food in the first 1,000 days of their lives?
  2. Imagine if you had young children who needed nutritional food—what sacrifices would you make to make sure they got healthy food, and why?
  3. How might the challenges facing the community in the story compare to struggles members of your own community face when trying to access healthy food? 

2. Vietnam: Farm School by Stephanie Guyer-Stevens and Jack Chance for Pulitzer Center

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Guyer-Stevens, Jack Chance, and Simon Dearnaley. Vietnam. 2008.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Guyer-Stevens, Jack Chance, and Simon Dearnaley. Vietnam. 2008.

Observe and Predict:

Observe this photo. (Image by Stephanie Guyer Stevens and Jack Chance. Vietnam, 2008) Write down three details that you see, two questions that you have, and one prediction about the challenge this story will discuss.

Explore the Story: 

Write and Discuss:

  1. What is the main challenge that Tu's family is facing right now in accessing food? What are they doing to access to get better access to food?
  2. Have you ever had to grow your own food to pay for the things that your family needs? How do you think you would feel if you had to do this?
  3. How would you feel being separated from your family and community for long periods of time because you had to go to school? 

The Solutions: 

1. In Ghana, a Bumper Crop of Opinions on Genetically Modified Cowpea by Ankur Paliwal for Undark 

Women sell cowpea at this bustling grain and vegetable market in Tamale, Ghana’s third-largest city. Ninety percent of Ghana’s cowpea is grown in the northern part of the country. Image by Ankur Paliwal. Ghana, 2019.

Women sell cowpea at this bustling grain and vegetable market in Tamale, Ghana’s third-largest city. Ninety percent of Ghana’s cowpea is grown in the northern part of the country. Image by Ankur Paliwal. Ghana, 2019.

Observe and Predict:

Observe this photo. (Image by Ankur Paliwal. United States, 2019.) Write down three details that you see, two questions that you have, and one prediction about the solution this story will discuss.

Explore the Story:  

Write and Discuss:

  1. What is the problem facing the cowpea plant?
  2. What is the solution that scientists have come up with to save the cowpea? What are the main advantages of this solution?
  3. Why is the cowpea important to the community in Ghana? Is there a food that you eat every day that could be paired with many meals?

Future of Food: This Genetically Engineered Salmon May Hit U.S. Markets As Early As 2020

By Mark Bittman, Megan Thompson, and Melanie Saltzman for PBS NewsHour

Observe and Predict:

Observe this thumbnail photo (screenshot from "The Future of Food" by Mark Bittman). Write down three details that you see, two questions that you have, and one prediction about the solution this story will discuss.

Explore the Story: 

Write and Discuss:

  1. What is the challenge facing the seafood industry?
  2. What is the solution that scientists have come up with to produce more salmon? What are the main advantages of this solution?
  3. Does your community have access to seafood? If so, how much do you know about where your seafood comes from? If seafood isn't easily accessible to your community, why do you think that is?

Closing Discussion:

Guide students in a discussion as a class, or in small groups, to reflect on the following questions:

  1. What new information did you learn about challenges that communities are facing in other countries in accessing food? How are they navigating these challenges?
  2. Using details from the stories you explored, what connections can you make between your life and the lives of people from around the world?
  3. What similarities did you find between the solutions your community is trying to implement to more easily access food and the way that communities around the world have implemented solutions?

Extension Activities:

1. Read, Research and Create a Work of Art: Exploring Community Gardens

A challenge that many communities face is being unable to access fresh fruits and vegetables. A solution for this problem that many communities are implementing is to create a community garden. A community garden is a large closed in area of land that a group of people have decided to turn into a garden to plant vegetables and fruits. These crops are usually shared with the community. This solution allows communities to overcome the challenge of inaccessible fresh fruits and vegetables.

  1. Read the following story about how a community in Brazil is implementing this solution to have more access to fresh produce. 
  2. Now that you've read about how local farming is a solution to access fresh produce, visit one of these community gardens in your area. Speak to gardeners that you see, and reflect on the following questions:
  • Why did they learn how to garden?
  • Do they share their produce with the community?
  • Do these gardeners face any challenges maintaining these spaces?
  • What is being grown in the garden? Are they growing any fruit or vegetables that you like? Ask them something important to know about growing that produce. 

      3. Create a piece of art for your community that reponds to the following:

  • What is a community garden, and what can be found there?
  • What is the mission of the garden you visited? 
  • What action do you want people to take to support community gardens?

Your work of art could show the range of colors you think are most beautiful in a garden, the people who might visit a garden, or the produce you would like be in a garden. Use colored pencils, crayons, or paint to create this art piece. 

Extension: Have you decided that you might want to try growing your own garden? Click here to learn different gardening basics. 

2. In-class Research and Writing: Where does our food come from?

Many people have a favorite food, but do they know where these foods comes from or who grows/creates them? 

  1. Conduct a survey in your classroom about everyone's favorite type of food.
  2. Pick the top three most popular foods in the class, and break them down into their respective ingredients. For example, if the class chose pizza it can be broken down into tomatoes, cheese, and pepperoni meat.
  3. Each student should then pick an ingredient, find out where it comes from and how it is produced. Students should be prepared to respond to the following: 
  • What place does your ingredient come from?
  • Who grows or produces this ingredient?
  • What challenges are there to producing this ingredient? If there are no challenges currently, have there been challenges in the past?
  • What solutions have been implemented to keep this ingredient in production for us to use?

      4. Write a one page paper  that shares your responses to the questions above. 

3. Sustainability Skits:

Many communities are looking for ways to establish sustainable food systems in their communities and lessen the effects of participating in large food systems that hurt the environment. Follow the steps below to explore ideas from the World Wildlife Federation on how to eat in ways that are better for the environment.

  1. Reads this article from the World Wildlife Federation on solutions to eating more sustainably and identify the tips that most interest you.
  2. Break into six small groups.
  3. Each group should then pick one tip they like best, or feel most strongly about, and formulate a skit to explain the tip to the class. (Ideally, each group will focus on a different tip.)  The skit should be no more than two minutes long. Use your imagination!  
Educator Notes: 

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.7
Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.2
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

 

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