Cover Image
close this bookExploding the Hunger Myths - High School Curriculum (FF, 1987, 173 p.)
close this folderLesson 8: Working together for change
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentActivity 1: Brainstorming ways to end hunger
View the documentActivity 2: Letting people know how you feel
View the documentActivity 3: Food and hunger in your community
View the documentActivity 4: Fighting hunger in your community
View the documentActivity 5: Teaching others about hunger



In previous lessons, students have seen how people can work to change their situation. Now your class can act as a group to become involved in working against hunger. While the action ideas at the end of each activity have contained many ideas for individual and group actions, they are oriented for out-of-class time. This lesson contains descriptions of class projects.

The activities in this lesson, unlike those in previous lessons, are long term. They therefore have no time limits. Each activity contains an activity description, objectives, and a procedure for getting started in class.


Brainstorming Ways to End Hunger begins by asking students to create a list of ways to work against hunger. In lesson 1, students brainstormed about the causes of hunger and created a web chart. Now, after an analysis of assumptions about hunger, they can brainstorm ways to end hunger.


Letting People Know How You Feel is a letter-writing activity in which each student (or small group) writes a letter to a public official, a business person, or a newspaper. The letters and responses are shared with the class.


Food and Hunger in Your Community gives students an opportunity to compile a booklet about food and hunger in their community.


Fighting Hunger in Your Community asks students to compile and distribute a notebook about programs and people fighting hunger in their community.


Teaching Others about Hunger is an outreach project in which students present information to others through public speaking, workshops, presentations, and exhibits.

You might want to collect student work and check it. Since the idea is to get students involved in projects, I suggest not grading the assignments.

Feel free to modify the activities as you see fit. For added ideas, see the Resource Guide at the end of the curriculum.


1. How can our class become involved in ending hunger?

Activity 1: Brainstorming ways to end hunger

Students will brainstorm ways to help end hunger, and cooperatively decide on plans of action.


· To brainstorm specific changes to counter hunger
· To help each other develop plans for accomplishing changes
· To evaluate plans as a group


· Butcher paper or newsprint
· Web chart from lesson 1, activity 4 (if your class did this activity).


Class discussion


1. Explain to students that they will be generating positive ideas for ending hunger and choosing one idea to develop into a concrete plan of action. Emphasize that even small steps make a difference.

2. Set up some brainstorming rules: all ideas are okay, no criticizing what others say during initial idea gathering, etc.


Ask the group as a whole if they can think of actions that might contribute to ending hunger. Examples students might give are volunteering to help an organization, growing food, joining food cooperatives, teaching others about hunger, donating money to organizations, and writing letters. What sort of steps could an individual take? (Refer them to the action ideas they've completed for previous activities.) What sort of steps could they take as a group?


An alternate way to start the discussion is by asking students what single idea about hunger discussed in other lessons made them most angry or most surprised. Examples might be that there is currently enough food produced to feed everyone, that a few companies control much of our food system, that there is serious hunger in the United States and food programs are being cut. List the ideas on the board and then ask students for ideas of ways to combat these problems.

4. Then ask the students to divide into small groups. Each group should take one or more of the suggestions from the list and think of ways that suggestions could actually be carried out. Groups should each generate a plan of action and outline it on paper.

5. After small groups have outlined their plans, wrap up by calling the class back together and asking each group to present its plan or each student to present his or her plan. Emphasize positive aspects of each plan. It is very easy to begin doubting the effectiveness of small actions and become cynical and apathetic. Counter this tendency with an affirmative approach to this discussion.

6. If there is time and a plan looks feasible, why not have the class work together on it? Perhaps the students could vote on the plan they would most like to carry out.

Activity 2: Letting people know how you feel

Students will write letters expressing their opinions about a hunger issue.


· To identify possible letter recipients
· To outline ideas about hunger and its causes
· To write a short letter or card


· Paper
· Pens
· Envelopes and stamps


Letters can be turned in (not graded).


1. Discuss with students the idea that letters to public figures can have an impact. Sometimes only a few letters on a particular issue are sent to public officials, so every letter carries weight. Public opinion can have a major impact.

Mention that it is easy for an individual to put off writing a letter. By making letter writing a class project, you can open the door for students to continue letter writing on their own. Encourage students to continue this process.

2. Ask students as a group to list on the board important subjects for letter writing. Possible ideas: farm foreclosures, deceptive advertising, changes in food programs, the need for shelters for homeless people, the export of illegal pesticides to third world countries, and continued aid to countries with bad human rights records.

Positive letters can be written applauding good policy changes or a group's sustained efforts to end hunger. Some examples: Apple Computer pulling out of South Africa; cities declaring themselves sanctuaries for Central American refugees; organizations noted for their commitment to ending world hunger (see Resource Guide); political leaders who propose cuts in military spending and increased support for health care, education, etc.; and successful examples of community organizing to help the poor. Positive letters are rare and are very much appreciated.

3. For each topic listed, ask for suggestions of people and places to send the letters. Some addresses for government officials are listed on the Action Ideas handout (p. xv). Others can be located with help from a reference librarian at your local library. The telephone directory is a good resource for the local area. Package labels often give the addresses of companies making products.

4. Distribute letter-writing materials to students, and ask them to compose short letters about their topics to be sent to selected people. Suggest that each student include a brief description of the problem and how she or he would like the recipient to respond to the problem. Asking questions opens the door to dialogue with the recipient and increases the chance that the student will receive a personal reply.

5. When writing to public officials, make sure to use the correct salutation, closing, and address. Note that the president and vice president of the United States are addressed by title only.

You may need to review the structure of a business letter with the students. Language and composition books generally have good descriptions of the proper format for business letters. A brief format is presented.

6. Ask students to make rough drafts in class. The letters can be completed as homework. If students turn in their letters, help them correct punctuation and spelling, but do not grade.

7. Encourage students to keep a copy of each letter they write.

8. Have students bring final drafts of letters to class. Collect, stamp, and mail, or have students do this.

9. When students receive replies, discuss in class and/or post replies on bulletin board as a way to wrap up this project.

Address for letter and envelope

Activity 3: Food and hunger in your community

Students will research the role their community plays in the world food system and where hunger occurs in their community. They will compile a group report on their findings.


· To investigate hunger and food in the local community
· To compile a report based on research


· Paper
· Art supplies
· Notebooks


Group reports can be turned in.

Food and hunger in your community


1. Ask students what they know about hunger in their community. Does it exist? Suggest that the class design and conduct a research project about how hunger and food issues relate to their community.

Suggest these topics for investigation to students and/or come up with others if you wish.

· How widespread is hunger in our community?

Investigate school lunch programs. What programs does your school have? Are there food banks in your town? How many people use them? How many people in your town live below the poverty line? This information is often available at city or county offices or the state department of public aid. The U.S. census also contains this kind of information. Reference librarians are helpful in making sense of the census.

· Where does our food come from?

Investigate whether or not your community produces food. Are there any canneries, bakeries, mills, food-processing plants, or meat-packing plants? Do these industries get their raw materials from the local area or from far away? Where is the locally produced food consumed? Is it consumed locally or far away? Where is other food eaten in the community produced? Have things changed in the last twenty years?

There are many ways to investigate these questions. Students can take a sample of thirty food items from a grocery store and research the origins of these products. They can then make a map or a flow chart of the path the food took before coming to the local community. If there are food industries in your town, students can conduct interviews with people working in these industries.

· How is this community linked to the forces that create hunger in other countries?

Hunger is created and maintained where governments prohibit workers from organizing unions, where governments pour resources into the military and the police and use them against their own people, where wealthy landowners and foreign corporations take land from poor peasants, and where food production is shifted to luxury exports while local food production declines. Are we connected to the creation and continuation of hunger through the use of our tax dollars or the policies of corporations based here in the United States? What are the living conditions of people growing our food?

To find out about living conditions in other countries, check with a reference librarian for information. There are many books on the situation of farmworkers in the United States. The International Labor Organization publishes wages for various occupations in many countries. Finally, students can interview local residents who are immigrants or refugees about working conditions in their country.

2. Have the students select topics they would like to research for the notebook. Several students can work together on a particular topic. Suggest a time limit for the project, perhaps one to two weeks.

3. After students have had time to conduct their research, have a class meeting to discuss their findings. Assign each student or group to prepare a part of the class report. Possible contributions include written reports, maps, drawings, photographs, or transcripts of interviews.

Encourage students to use their varied talents in producing the report. They can each work at home on individual segments of their group report.

4. Allow an hour or two of class time to put together the report. Make copies for all students. You may want to distribute additional copies to individuals in the community (perhaps some of the people that students interviewed). It is also valuable to put copies in libraries.

Activity 4: Fighting hunger in your community

Students will research individual actions and community programs that fight hunger and compile a resource directory for distribution.


· To investigate how the local community works against hunger
· To develop interviewing skills
· To produce a resource directory
· To distribute the directory


· Paper
· Art supplies

Student participation


1. Ask students to list any food- and hunger-related organizations or activities in the community. You might wish to make this an overnight assignment so they can discuss it with family and friends.

Suggest leads on where to find out what groups exist. Examples of community involvement include religious groups, government programs, community organizations, food cooperatives, labor unions, farmers' groups, community garden clubs, college groups, food banks, extension agencies, urban leagues, refugee groups, boycott groups, political action groups, neighborhood organizations, soup kitchens, and emergency shelters. Many times contacting one organization will lead to information on several others.

2. Assign individual students or small groups to research one of the groups suggested and write up to a page about the group or program.

3. Give students a week or two to arrange and carry out their interview. Suggest that they come up with questions before the interview. Several students can brainstorm questions before the interview.

4. Inform students that their write-up should contain the name of the program, name and position of person interviewed, activity, description of activity (who is served, what requirements do they have for people being served, what does the program do?), person to contact for information about the program (name, address, phone), and other organizations or programs recommended by the contact person.

5. After the first round of interviewing, you may want to assign a second round to follow up on new ideas.

6. When write-ups are completed, set aside a day to compile the directory. Discuss with students how they wish to organize it, for example by agency, by type of program, or alphabetically.

Ask for volunteers to design a cover and title for the directory. Other students can volunteer to proofread and make copies of the directory. If your school cannot help pay for this project, you might suggest some fund-raising activities to get enough money to print the directory.

7. Make copies for all class members and for all organizations listed.

8. Discuss with students some other places to distribute the directory. Libraries, courthouses, churches, synagogues, and social service agencies are just a few examples. Ask for volunteers to help distribute the copies.

Activity 5: Teaching others about hunger

Students will design and conduct an educational program about a hunger-related topic.


· To discuss the role of education in ending hunger
· To discuss educational activities students can conduct and to target an audience for their program
· To organize an educational program
· To present their program to a group


· Suggested Activities for Educating about Hunger (chart)


Student participation


1. Begin by explaining to students that they are capable of being teachers as well as students. Discuss how education can help end hunger. Ask students to suggest something they would like to teach someone about hunger. Ask students to think of an audience they would like to reach. Have them list possible projects.

2. Compile on the board a chart of suggested teaching activities based on the topics the students suggested. Some possible topics, audiences, and program ideas are presented in the chart Suggested Activities for educating About Hunger.

3. After charting all of the suggestions offered by students, ask them to vote for one activity that they, as a group, would like to work on. Ask students to consider the amount of time their project will take and possible costs.

4. After the class has chosen an activity, help them outline what needs to be done to carry out the project. At this stage, students may find that they have bitten off more than they can chew. Suggest ways to simplify the activity, or let them go back and choose another activity.

5. Divide students into work groups to carry out various tasks. It is best to get students to volunteer for the groups they want to be in. However, you may want to steer students towards tasks in which their chance of success is greatest. For instance, a student with poor reading skills may be able to work on illustrations, photographs, or filming, or on organizing a presentation. A shy student could work more on research and play a smaller role in presentation.

6. After each group has completed its task, have the class meet to organize their program. This may take several hours of class time if they are going to produce visual aids or have to assemble teaching materials.

7. Help students conduct the program. At this point, you may have to arrange for rides, work with schedules, etc.

8. After the program, discuss how it went. What worked and what didn't work? How could it have been improved? Did the students accomplish their goals?

Suggested activities for educating about hunger