Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

What Do People Around the World Eat?
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students view images of families around the world and the food they eat in a week. They examine the similarities and differences in relation to different attributes, such as type of food, nutrition, cost, and quantity. Discussions of stereotype and diversity help students gain sensitivity to the strengths and needs of different people around the world. 


One 45-Minute Session


The learner will:

  • develop an awareness of the diversity of food around the globe.
  • identify personal biases and stereotypes related to food.
  • explain the value of sensitivity and openness toward diverse cultures.
  • compare and contrast their food choices with the eating habits of others locally and globally.
  • explain how food choices are limited by resources, culture, and geography.


  • culture: values, beliefs, and perceptions of the world that are learned and are shared by members of a community
  • food insecurity: the risk or fear of not having consistent access to food that meets people's dietary needs and food preferences; not being sure one will have enough food or the right food to feel full, grow, and be healthy


  • five sheets of chart paper and markers

Teacher Preparation:

Write the names of five continents at the top of five chart papers: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Display the signs on the classroom wall for youth to write on.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Put the five signs, each with a continent’s name written on it, around the room (Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and North America). Tell young people to think about which of the five continents they believe has the healthiest food choices and the healthiest eating habits and to stand by that continent’s sign. Debrief with a discussion about perceptions about poverty, climate, culture, and other observations that come up. Ask youth to defend their choices—why do they think that? What proof or evidence can they state that would support their prediction? (This activity is designed to raise awareness that preconceptions are based on guesses rather than facts.)

  • Tell youth they are going to observe some photos of what people around the world eat. Tell them these are just samples, and this is not what all people eat in these countries (to avoid developing stereotypes).
  • View the images of what families around the world eat in a week at: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1626519,00.html, or, if the internet is not available, show pictures from the book Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Alusio. Go through the slide show once to give an overview.
  • Ask youth to be aware of their initial reactions to the food in each picture. As they react to differences, discuss the tendency to judge what is unfamiliar. Have them turn to a neighbor and respond to the following question: Why do people around the world eat different foods and different amounts of food? Have pairs share their responses to encourage empathy and openness to diversity.
  • Then, ask a volunteer to stand by each continent chart. Go through the slide show again more slowly as youth make observations. As each country’s picture is shown, identify for youth on which continent that country is located.
    • Asia: Mongolia, China, Bhutan, Kuwait, Japan
    • Africa: Chad, Egypt
    • Europe: Italy, Great Britain, Poland, Germany
    • North America: United States, Mexico
    • South America: Ecuador
  • The volunteers list the names of the countries pictured and jot down notes (on the chart) from what the group observes about the food choices of different nations and cultures. They may make observations about the quantity of food, number of people, price, nutrition, types of food, clothing, and housing.
  • After the slide show, compare the details listed on the different charts.
  • Tell youth that from the slide show, they can compare different attributes of the foods (cost per week per person, nutritional value, quantity per person, variety of food groups). Move youth into groups and assign them an attribute to compare across the countries and with their own diets (or they may self-select the groups by their interest in the attribute). Have them make inferences about economic status, nutritional content, and access and availability of food.
  • After groups meet for five minutes, allow each group to share a summary of their observations. Discuss the difference in availability of food, cost of food, and health of food in the different countries.
  • Ask, "How do these differences show that there is an injustice in food availability?  Whose responsibility is it to take action to address the injustice of food availability?" 


Youth Voice:

Young people compare their personal eating habits to the families in the images from around the world. They choose an attribute that is meaningful to them, such as nutrition, quantity, price, or taste preferences, and reflect on the differences between the diets observed related to that attribute.

Curriculum Connection:

Social Studies: Investigate geographic characteristics that dictate food production and consumption of food staples such as wheat, rice, corn, and fish.

Art: Create a collage using a variety of images and text to share their perception of global health related to food.

Math: Compare the nutrition information from two labels of foods from a similar category, such as two cans of soup. Compare and graph the nutritional information numerically.


Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Students create a digital presentation, using Glogster, Google Docs, Prezi, Keynote, or PowerPoint, showing a detailed comparison of two diets pictured in the slide show (or comparing their own diet to one diet in the slide show). They may use images, text, mind maps, and audio to add interest to the presentation.

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

Menzel, Peter, and Faith D'Alusio. Hungry PlanetPublisher: Material World (September 1, 2007) ISBN-10: 0984074422, ISBN-13: 978-0984074426

Time Magazine images from Hungry Planet:  http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1626519,00.html 


Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Global Health: Hunger and Food Around the Globe (9-12) Summary


What Do People Around the World Eat?
Where Does Our Food Travel?
Local Food and Global Health

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