Packing a Sack Supper
  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark E.5 Discuss how private funds might be distributed among competing priorities.

Through literature and discussion, students recognize that hunger is an issue in their community that they can do something about. Students brainstorm ways they can take action to address the needs of children who are hungry in their community. Students hold a food collection and use math and writing skills to analyze their collection.

PrintOne 30-Minute Class Period, One 45-Minute Class Period, Plus time for service experience

The learner will:

  • use prediction and story mapping with a shared reading experience.
  • investigate the issue of hunger in their community.
  • learn about a local nonprofit that serves people who are hungry.
  • collect items for a local food pantry (or meet other identified need).
  • read-aloud copy ofThe Girl in the Yellow Dress by Danielle Alexander or other book with a theme of child hunger (See Bibliographical References)
  • student copies of Handout One: Story Map
  • crayons and markers
  • vocabulary list
  • chart paper/white board
  • Sack Supper food donations (See following link for Kids' Food Basket specific wish list needs.)https://kidsfoodbasket.org/donate/wish-list
  • large paper lunchbags (8-pound size)
  • student copies of Handout Two: Parent Letter Food Items
Home Connection: 

Homework: Give students the assignment to create a grocery list of items they would need to feed their family for the week. See Handout Two for the homework assignment. Tell the students that this list should only include items of need or healthy choices. Younger students can draw pictures of the items and label them. For second-grade students give them a limited budget of $100 for the week. After students turn in the homework, ask the older students if they ran into any problems sticking with the budget. Discuss student choices and nutritional balance.








Alexander, Danielle The Girl in the Yellow Dress  (Available at Kids' Food Basket location in Grand Rapids, person of contact: Juile VanGessel)

Disalvo-Ryan, Dyanne Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen  April 1997. ISBN: 0688152856

Leedy, Loren The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day April 2007. ISBN: 0823420752

Milway, Katie, The Good Garden. September 2010. ISBN: 1554534887


Sid the Science Kid: I Want Cake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAhnHKnIzVI



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show students the book, The Girl in the Yellow Dress. Say, "Students, I have a new book to share with you today. It is called, The Girl in the Yellow Dress. Look at the cover for just a minute." (Show the cover.) Have the students make predictions about the text using the following questions:

    1. What do you think the story might be about?
    2. Why do you think the "yellow dress" is part of the title?
    3. What kinds of foods do you see on the cover? Would you like to eat these foods?

    Read the story aloud. Take opportunities to check for understanding while reading, asking questions such as:

    1. Why does Melanie always wear a yellow dress?
    2. Why do you think there is not any food for supper in Melanie's house?
    3. How do you think Melanie felt when she was called to the principal's office?
    4. Why did Melanie start to do better in school after she started recieving the Sack Suppers?
  2. Introduce the concept of needs and wants by creating a chart on the white board or large chart paper. On the left side write "needs," and on the right side write "wants." Model one example of a need, something you cannot live without, and one example of a want. Have the students share several examples of needs and wants. (For needs, there really are four main ideas: food, water, shelter, clothing. Some students may say a car is a need. Explain how this is a want, even though it would make transportation a challenge in some areas.)

  3. Next, talk about the meaning of the word "scarcity." Tell the students to think back in the text about how when Melanie went home there was not enough for her and her siblings to eat. This is why she took leftover food from school.

  4. After reading the book, have the students create a story map that identifies the character, setting, problem, and solution (Handout One: Story Map). (For kindergarten and first grade, you may have to define these story elements.) Kindergarten students may need to complete the story map together as a whole group. Students draw pictures for each story element and label the pictures. Second grade students can write a sentence to accompany their picture. For example, a sentence for setting could be, "The setting of this story takes place at school and in Melanie's home."

  5. After completing the story map, bring students together and have students share what they wrote and illustated. Ask students if they can think of a time when they felt really hungry. Ask, "How might that feel? Do you think you could concentrate on school work or play sports if you were often very hungry?"

  6. Ask, "Why might people be having this problem of not enough to eat?" Tell the students some of the reasons that families don't have enough food. Locate some statistics on hunger by visiting http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org orhttps://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/child-hunger-facts

  7. Tell the students that there are people and organizations in the community that care about people who are hungry, and they are already doing things to help. Ask, "Why would someone want to help people who are hungry?" Lead the students to recognize that people like to help others, and the community is stronger when everyone in the community is doing well. This is why people volunteer and give money for issues they care about.

  8. Define philanthropy as "giving or sharing time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good." Tell the students that they don't need to wait until they are adults to be philanthropists. They are already philanthropists if they share their time to help others. Discuss examples of giving time, talent, and treasure.

  9. Tell the students, "Sometimes when we face a problem, we have to search for creative ways to sove the problem. For example, when Principal P. saw Melanie's need, she worked with others to create the nonprofit organization called Kids' Food Basket in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that serves kids all over the city Sack Suppers that they bring home from school. Help the students identify some nonprofit organizations in your area and what need they address. (Second grade students may be able to help you think of some examples.)

  10. Ask students to brainstorm ideas of what they could do in their community to address this issue of hunger. Write some of these ideas on chart paper or a whiteboard.

  11. Explain to students that this story is a real (nonfiction) story. Show the video clip "Life of a Sack Supper" here:https://kidsfoodbasket.org/.

  12. After watching the video, "Life of a Sack Supper," tell students they will have the opportunity to donate items and pack Sack Suppers at Kids' Food Basket. If outside of the Grand Rapids area, find a local food bank or faith-based organization that does something similar. Students could visit a local food pantry and stock its shelves. The teacher should make this community connection prior to introducing the lesson.

  13. Visit the website of the local food pantry to find a list of needs, or read this list of items that could go into a Sack Supper:https://kidsfoodbasket.org/donate/wish-list Ask students how their classroom or school or community could collect these items for the local nonprofit that serves food to families that are hungry (fundraiser, food drive). Make a plan to collect items to meet the needs of the local nonprofit.

  14. Note on timing:

  15. This project and the collection of items could span over several days to several weeks depending on how much you would like to collect and who is involved. If you are working with just your class, the timeline for collecting non-perishable food items could be just a few days. If you are involving a grade level, or an entire school, this project of collecting items and then visiting a local nonprofit could span several weeks.

  16. Plan and carry out the collection of food with the students before "Day Two" of this lesson.

  17. Day 2:

    After you have collected food items, bring the students together around the food and discuss what you have collected and how it will be used.

  18. Sort and count the items collected, involving the students in thinking of different ways to sort and count, such as by color, food type, and counting by twos, fives, or tens. Perhaps the class can graph the number of food items collected by classroom, if the collection of items is opened up to the whole school. Ask questions such as, what class collected the most? What kinds of foods were collected most?

  19. Because the Sack Suppers are packed in large paper lunch bags at Kids' Food Basket, have students draw different healthy food items on the outside of paper bags using markers and crayons.To introduce students to healthy food choices, show the "Sid the Science Kid" video or read The Edible Pyramidfound under the Bibliographical References section. The decorated bags can be brought to the nonprofit organization.

  20. Optional Field Trip and Follow-up Reflection:

  21. Your class can visit the food pantry (or Kids' Food Basket in Grand Rapids, Michigan) after collecting items on the "wish list." On your visit, bring along the decaorated paper bags. Students may take a guided tour of the facility and pack Sack Suppers for 60 minutes.

  22. Upon returning to school, ask students to reflect on how they felt about the experience. Do they feel they made a difference in another child's life? Did the experience make them feel good? Why? What are some other ways they could address a need in the community?

  23. An appropriate reflection for younger students, upon returning from the Kids' Food Basket or other local nonprofit, is to draw a picture of what they did on the site. For example, students may draw themselves packing suppers or decorating bags. Students may write a sentence about how the experience made them feel. For example, "I felt happy to pack Sack Suppers because I was helping other kids who were hungry."

  24. After students have had time to reflect on their experience, they pair up with a partner and share their refections. The reflection pictures and sentences may be shared within the school as a display or sent to the location where students volunteered.


Have students create a retelling of the story The Girl in the Yellow Dress. Students will draw/write about what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Students can define the following vocabulary from the lesson: hunger need volunteer scarcity