Lesson Plans

Food Justice: Planting the Seeds of Change

Vegetables grow in the shadow of the city’s iconic skyline at Chicago Lights Urban Farm, where hoop dreams have given way to hoop houses. Image by Roger Thurow. Chicago, 2013.

This unit was created by Rosa Clara Salazar, a World Geography and AP Human Geography teacher at United High School in Laredo, TX, as part of the fall 2020 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Arts, Journalism, and Justice. It is designed for facilitation across approximately five 45-minute class periods. For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.

Objectives:

Students will be able to...

  • Define food security, food insecurity, and food justice.
  • Explain how hunger and food insecurity are different.
  • Explain how food security and food insecurity are measured.
  • Discuss how food justice is relevant to themselves and their community.
  • Communicate their understanding of food justice through visual poems.

Unit Overview:

Food justice (in)security is a critical social justice issue in many of our communities. It implicates all of us daily because all of us eat. Yet, it is not enough to simply talk about food justice; it is an ongoing action that must be practiced daily. In this unit, students will explore the connections between art, specifically through poetry, and issues of food justice. Students will use visual poetry as a catalyst for conversation and action to address the issue of food justice.

This unit consists of five lessons and culminates in a performance assessment about food security and everyone’s right to eat well and be well. In Lesson 1, students will begin by building background knowledge about food security. In Lesson 2, students will analyze food security at the national and global scale. In Lesson 3, students will learn about food deserts and map food deserts in their community. Lesson 4 leads students to understand the cultural barriers to healthy eating habits and propose actions for change.  Finally, in Lesson 5, students will create visual poems to educate, empower, and bring action to the community on food insecurity, food deserts, changing eating habits, and raising awareness of community gardens.

Resources for Facilitating this Unit:

Click here for a PDF outlining lesson plans for this unit, including warm-ups, resources, discussion questions, and activities.

Performance Task:

Social justice movements have consisted of people working together on an area of injustice that they want to change. They use organizing, activism, and other forms of protest to make their case and put forth their vision and demands. Art has also contributed to social justice movements because it gives people a voice. It becomes a medium for awareness and a platform for change. Through this performance task, students will join the growing number of food justice advocates and activists through your poetry and contribute to bringing awareness to this issue in their community.

Students will build on their poetry writing exercises and reflections from throughout this unit to create a visual poem about food justice. Poems should explore any of the topics discussed throughout this unit (local/national/global food security, food deserts, healthy eating habits, community gardens,...). Most importantly, however, it should also discuss ways to work towards food justice in your community. Your poem should lead those who see it to reflect, to ask questions, to move toward action.

Because it is a visual poem, students must include original images. Poems will be narrated and must include the text.

Here are several examples of poems to help students get started.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a visual poem from the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Educator Notes: 

Texas World Geography Standards:

Lesson Plan 1:

(8) Geography. The student understands how people, places, and environments are connected and interdependent. The student is expected to:
(C) evaluate the economic and political relationships between settlements and the environment, including sustainable development and renewable/non-renewable resources.

(10) Economics. The student understands the distribution, characteristics, and interactions of the economic systems in the world. The student is expected to:
(C) compare the ways people satisfy their basic needs through the production of goods and services such as subsistence agriculture versus commercial agriculture or cottage industries versus commercial industries.

(12) Economics. The student understands the economic importance of, and issues related to, the location and management of resources. The student is expected to:
(B) evaluate the geographic and economic impact of policies related to the development, use, and scarcity of natural resources such as regulations of water.

Lesson Plan 2:

(2) History. The student understands how people, places, and environments have changed over time and the effects of these changes. The student is expected to:
(B) explain how changes in societies such as population shifts, technological advancements, and environmental policies have led to diverse uses of physical features over time such as terrace farming, dams, and polders.

(10) Economics. The student understands the distribution, characteristics, and interactions of the economic systems in the world. The student is expected to:
(C) compare the ways people satisfy their basic needs through the production of goods and services such as subsistence agriculture versus commercial agriculture or cottage industries versus commercial industries.

(16) Culture. The student understands how the components of culture affect the way people live and shape the characteristics of regions. The student is expected to:
(C) describe life in a variety of urban and rural areas in the world to compare political, economic, social, and environmental changes.

(18) Culture. The student understands the ways in which cultures change and maintain continuity. The student is expected to:
(C) identify examples of cultures that maintain traditional ways, including traditional economies.

(19) Science, technology, and society. The student understands the impact of technology and human modifications on the physical environment. The student is expected to:
(C) analyze the environmental, economic, and social impacts of advances in technology on agriculture and natural resources.

Lesson Plan 3:

(5) Geography. The student understands how political, economic, and social processes shape cultural patterns and characteristics in various places and regions. The student is expected to:
(B) interpret political, economic, social, and demographic indicators (gross domestic product per capita, life expectancy, literacy, and infant mortality) to determine the level of development and standard of living in nations using the levels as defined by the Human Development Index.

(8) Geography. The student understands how people, places, and environments are connected and interdependent. The student is expected to:
(A) compare ways that humans depend on, adapt to, and modify the physical environment, including the influences of culture and technology.

(10) Economics. The student understands the distribution, characteristics, and interactions of the economic systems in the world. The student is expected to:
(C) compare the ways people satisfy their basic needs through the production of goods and services such as subsistence agriculture versus commercial agriculture or cottage industries versus commercial industries.

(21) Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to:
(C) create and interpret different types of maps to answer geographic questions, infer relationships, and analyze change.

(23) Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others. The student is expected to:
(A) plan, organize, and complete a research project that involves asking geographic questions; acquiring, organizing, and analyzing information; answering questions; and communicating results;
(B) use case studies and GIS to identify contemporary challenges and to answer real-world questions; and
(C) use problem-solving and decision-making processes to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

Lesson Plan 4:

(5) Geography. The student understands how political, economic, and social processes shape cultural patterns and characteristics in various places and regions. The student is expected to:
(A) analyze how the character of a place is related to its political, economic, social, and cultural elements.

(16) Culture. The student understands how the components of culture affect the way people live and shape the characteristics of regions. The student is expected to:
(B) describe elements of culture, including language, religion, beliefs, institutions, and technologies.

(21) Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to:
(D) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, drawing inferences and conclusions, and developing connections over time; and
(E) identify different points of view about an issue or current topic.

Lesson Plan 5:

(23) Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others. The student is expected to:
(A) plan, organize, and complete a research project that involves asking geographic questions; acquiring, organizing, and analyzing information; answering questions; and communicating results; and
(C) use problem-solving and decision-making processes to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

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