| Food first curriculum for grade 6 students |
So often Americans think of the hungry in the third world as people totally unlike themselves--as hopeless, helpless, and ignorant. All of our work at the Institute, including this curriculum, attempts to break down such stereotypes by demonstrating the many parallels between the causes of hunger in the Third World and our own food and agricultural problems.
Though food is the most basic human need and human right, the hungry are increasing—both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world's people. In the third world, twenty million people a year—mostly children-die each year from hunger and hunger-related diseases. In some U.S. inner cities, infant mortality rates linked to maternal malnutrition are as high as in some underdeveloped countries.
Why? Our research here at the Institute demonstrates that hunger is not caused by scarcity. The world produces enough in grain alone to feed every person 3,000 calories a day, as much as the average . American eats. Hunger is not caused by too many people, or insufficient technology, or ignorance. Both in this country and overseas, more and more people go hungry because they do not have the land, the jobs, or the other resources they need to feed themselves. Around the world, a privileged minority is concentrating its economic control over these resources at the expense of the poor.
Awareness of these trends could lead to frustration and discouragement. So many—young and old alike—feel overwhelmed by problems of a global scale. How can we counter this paralyzing despair?
In our experience, people overcome despair as they begin to understand root causes. As an understanding emerges, we begin to make sense of what before was a jumble of frightening facts. Most important, we begin to see how our own daily life choices--what we eat, where we shop, what we try to learn, where we work, and so on—connect us personally to the causes of hunger and to the solutions.
Many times, messages to children about hunger play upon feelings of guilt. We reject this approach We believe that many people, especially young people, are looking for ways to understand the world that will give greater meaning to their daily lives. Instead of a depressing and paralyzing subject to be avoided, we have come to see that understanding the roots of hunger can be a potent tool in awakening people to their power to change themselves and the world around them. It is in this spirit that we offer this curriculum guide.
Frances Moore LappÃ©
San Francisco, 1984