Local Hunger and Malnutrition

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will describe how hunger and malnutrition are related, but not the same problems. They will recognize hunger as a universal theme in literature and analyze the role of the four sectors of society in solving problems of hunger in the community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe the difference between hunger and malnutrition.
  • compare experiences of hunger evidenced in literature.
  • identify how the four sectors of society work together to diminish hunger in the local community.
  • Journal notebooks
  • Dictionaries
  • Computer lab with Internet access
  • Selections from Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt that relate to hunger

"Great Nutrition Resources for Children." Guide to Nursing Schools. http://www.guidetonursingschools.com/library/childrens-nutrition  This site is full of up-to-date facts, information and activities for different ages, and links to interactive sites. [no longer available]

Harvest for Hunger https://harvestforhunger.org/ This Web site provides information on Harvest for Hunger which is coordinated by the Cleveland Foodbank. 

Kids Health https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/hunger.html This site provides information on malnutrition.

McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes. New York: Scribner, 1999. ISBN: 068484267X

Toledo Foodbank www.Toledofoodbank.org This site provides statistics on child hunger and child poverty in Ohio. It also has links to hunger sites on the Web.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the learners to list all the places in their community that provide food for the needy. Compile the list on the chalkboard.

  2. Using dictionaries, ask the learners to define hunger. Place the definition on the board. 

  3. Explain that we all feel hungry at times. Hunger is the way the body signals that it needs to eat. Ask the learners to explain the difference between hunger and malnutritionMalnutrition means a person’s body lacks the nutrients necessary to grow and stay healthy. The condition may result from an inadequate or an unbalanced diet. People who go hungry all the time and are malnourished don’t develop normally. People suffer from hunger because they don’t get enough food, and hunger can lead to malnutrition over the long term. Starvation is a form of malnutrition.

  4. Divide the class into two groups. Have one group read the passage from Angela’s Ashes (Handout: Hunger - Five Years Old) related to hunger. The second group will read the passage from Angela’s Ashes (Handout: Hunger - Ten Years Old). Compare the passages. Discuss how hunger affected Frank McCourt and his brothers, physically and psychologically at two different times in his life and on two different continents.

  5. List statistics of child hunger and child poverty in Ohio (or your state) on the chalkboard. (Information is available at www.Toledofoodbank.org). Use the statistics to generate a discussion about hunger and poverty in your area. Questions could include the following:

    • What causes hunger in the learners’ communities?
    • Why is there hunger in the midst of abundance?
    • What is the connection between hunger and poverty?
    • Are all people who go hungry unemployed?
  6. Working in small groups on the Internet, have the learners research the organizations in their community that address hunger (using the information collected from the anticipatory set and other sources). Have each learner identify the services offered by an organization being researched by sharing information with the class as a whole.

  7. Now that the learners have clear examples of organizations in the community which provide food for the hungry, ask them to classify each group as either a governmentfor profit businessnonprofit or family organization (four sectors of society). Ask the learners to explain why needs related to hunger and malnutrition are handled in different ways by government, business, philanthropy and family. Why is there a need for all of these groups in society?

  8. Based on learner presentations, ask the class to select one organization they would like to support. Plan and take a field trip to the organization the following week.

    Note: To support local food drives, go to http://harvestforhunger.org for information on setting up a Harvest for Hunger campaign in the school. Click on "Campaign Tools."


Ask the learners to write a brief essay in their journals describing the difference between hunger and malnutrition. They should then include a description of the work of the organization they researched and categorize it as one of the four sectors of society. An alternate topic for inclusion in the journals could be: "What the word hunger means to me now."

Cross Curriculum 

Students will take a field trip to a food pantry and help to organize a Harvest for Hunger campaign at their school.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
  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. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.