What Do People Around the World Eat?

9, 10, 11, 12

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. 

Lesson Rating 
One 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • develop an awareness of the diversity offood around the globe.
  • identifypersonal biases and stereotypes related to food.
  • explain thevalue ofsensitivity 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.
  • 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.

  • 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

Write a personal reflection in response to one or more of the following questions: How do food differences in the world reflect strengths and needs of diverse people? What are your personal biases related to food? What will you be more sensitive about in the future related to food availability and personal tastes?


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 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put thefive 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 thefive 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.)

  2. 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).

  3. 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 showonce to give an overview.

  4. 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.

  5. 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
  6. The volunteerslist 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.

  7. After the slide show, compare the details listed on the different charts.

  8. 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, nutritionalcontent,and access and availability of food.

  9. After groups meet for five minutes, allow each group toshare a summary of their observations. Discuss the difference in availabilityof food, cost of food,and health of foodin the different countries.

  10. Ask, "How dothese differences show that there is an injustice in food availability?Whose responsibility is it to take action to address the injustice offood availability?"

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Analyze philanthropic traditions of diverse cultural groups and their contributions to civil society.
      2. Benchmark HS.6 Describe the role that growth in personal wealth plays in the changing types of philanthropy for minority groups and women.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Compare and contrast opportunities for students to improve the common good to the opportunities available to students in other countries.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.

Academic Standards

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