Hunger: Facts and Responses

9, 10, 11, 12

Students define hunger and explore the myths and facts about the issue of global hunger. They brainstorm actions they can take to reduce the effects of hunger on others in their community and around the world. Students write poems to represent their thinking about the problem of hunger.

PrintTwo 50-Minute Class Periods, plus time for making a group poster

The learner will:

  • define and give examples of wants and needs.
  • define vocabulary words relating to hunger.
  • identify the causes and the effects of hunger related to nutrition.
  • analyze myths and facts about global hunger.
  • generate questions about local or global hunger and find the answers through research.
  • utilize online resources to create a visual map of hunger resources in their neighborhood, state, country or world.
  • present findings to the class verbally and with visuals.
  • respond to text of first-person accounts of hunger.
  • brainstorm and plan action youth can take to address the issue of hunger.
  • write a reflective poem.
  • student copies of Handout 1: Hunger Quiz
  • internet access for student group research
  • printer
  • chart paper, markers
  • poetry samples of different styles (diamante and haiku)
  • art materials: poster paper, colored pencils, markers, scissors, construction paper, glue, tape)
  • hunger: an urgent need for food; a weakened condition brought on by prolonged lack of food
  • malnutrition: a state of poor nutrition caused by either insufficient food supply or by excessive or unbalanced diet
  • famine: a widespread scarcity of food
  • starvation: the state of not having enough food to grow or be healthy
  • at-risk: having a high probability of experiencing; being in danger
  • population: the total number of inhabitants of a region
  • drought: long-period of low rainfall that affects growing or living conditions


  • Ask students to reflect on the difference between saying, “I’m hungry!” and “I’m starving!” Have them think about and share some causes for both.
  • Students complete the sentence, “I never knew…” in relation to hunger.


  1. Session One (this may involve two or three sessions to allow time for research and making/presenting posters):

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students to jot on a piece of scrap paper a list of their “needs” and their “wants." Then have youth gather quickly in a small group and compare their lists, noting the commonalities in their “needs” list. Ask students to share with the whole group what needs were on all their lists.

  2. Have a group discussion about human needs, and make note of the fact that food is a need for everyone.

  3. Ask youth what "a lack of food" is called (hunger). Ask students to brainstorm their knowledge, assumptions, and ideas about the following questions: "what is hunger, what causes it, where is hunger a problem, and what are the statistics?" Write their ideas on the chart paper or board.

  4. Share the vocabulary from above and discuss the meanings of the words. Write the definitions on the chart paper or board.

  5. Give each student a copy of Handout 1: Hunger Quiz. Have them read the statements and mark whether they think the facts are true or false. Then have them meet in their small groups to discuss the answers. They may change their answers if the discussion persuades them. Discuss each statement as a whole class. (Answers: All of the statements are false.)

  6. Tell the students they will do some research on the Internet about the causes and effects of hunger. Ask them what questions they have about hunger that can guide their research. Write their questions on the board. For example, What are some community or world issues that lead to hunger? Where is hunger a problem in the world? How many people are hungry in our community? How does hunger affect health? What are the effects of hunger on people and a community? Is there enough food in the world to feed everyone? Why are children hungry in the U.S? What organizations are working on a solution? What is the government's role? (The next session will be about solutions, so focus on the facts and causes in this lesson.)

  7. With the help of the students, divide up the brainstormed questions into meaningful categories. Assign questions to groups of students. Give them time to research their questions, take notes, discuss their findings, and combine information into a informational poster that can be shared with the whole group. Following are some websites where students may find answers to their questions:





  12. Students may use images and art materials to make their poster attractive.

  13. Allow time (either class time or as homework) for each group to complete and then present their posters to the whole class. After all groups have presented, discuss the information learned.

  14. Sesssion Two:

  15. Write the name of your city, state, country, and "the world" on a chart or board. Have students draw two lines across and down a paper to divide it into four quadrants. In each section they write the four regions from the board.

  16. Give them 3-5 minutes to brainstorm questions about how to address the issue of hunger in each region. They write a question they are curious about resources in their local community, in their state, the country and the world.

  17. Have them pair up to discuss their questions. While discussing, they may add more questions. Then have students share some of their questions with the whole group.

  18. Write the shared question on the chart/board. Examples: What is the best way to help a hungry family? Where can hungry people in our community find a free meal or food for their pantry?

  19. Tell students to select one quadrant that they will focus on (city, state, nation, world). They will use the questions there to guide their project. Have them use Google Maps or another resource to find resources and organizations and examples of action plans. They create a visual map or display that can be shared with others. For example, students may search for "soup kitchens in New York City."

  20. Set out the students' work around the room and have them do a walkabout. They take notes as they walk past and read their reports.

  21. Discuss what they noticed and what ideas they feel they could assist with. Encourage the students to continue talking about things they can do. Ask them whether they would like to do something as a group to address hunger in one of these regions. Discuss plans and encourage them to follow their enthusiasm to carry out a plan.

  22. Read some poems about hunger. See "The Arithmetic of Poverty" as an example: Discuss student response to the poems.

  23. Have students write a reflection about hunger and their personal responsibility to the issue. The reflection may take the form of a poem, such as a diamante or haiku.

  24. Display any poems students write for others to read. Share the poems in a public publication as a piece of advocacy.

Cross Curriculum 

Students generate a plan of action based on the research and discussion around hunger. They may organize a canned food drive or work in a local soup kitchen/pantry, or come up with another plan to address hunger locally, nationally, or globally.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify international civil society sector organizations and map their locations.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and describe how civil society sector organizations help people nationally and internationally.
      3. Benchmark HS.3 Identify and describe civil society sector organizations whose purpose is associated with issues relating to "human characteristics of place" nationally and internationally.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Utilize the persuasive power of written or oral communication as an instrument of change in the community, nation or the world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.
  2. 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.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.