Making a Difference in the World

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will distinguish between the many different approaches to hunger in the United States and abroad by looking at governmental versus nonprofit programs. They will describe the importance of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in dealing with the problem of hunger and reflect on the importance of philanthropic actions in solving the problems of hunger in the world.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast government and nonprofit programs of hunger relief.
  • describe how food is distributed to the hungry through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
  • give examples of domestic and international programs that provide food to the hungry.
  • describe acts of philanthropy related to solving the problem of hunger.
  • Computer(s) with Internet access
  • Web resources on hunger issues (see bibliography)


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Put the following statement on the chalkboard: "It is estimated that one billion people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition." In a quick brainstorm session lasting no more than three minutes, ask the learners to name solutions for the problem. Record the responses on the board as well.

  2. Working as a whole group and looking at the list provided in the brainstorming session, put a "G" in front of those solutions that can be done by a government, either a national or an international governmental organization (e.g., United Nations, European Union, World Court, Organization of American States). Put a "B" in front of the solutions that could be conducted by for-profit businesses (including multinational corporations). Put "NGO" in front of those which are nongovernmental organizations  (e.g., Amnesty International, Red Cross and World Council of Churches). Discuss why there are so many different organizations that address the problem of hunger. How effective is it to have many different approaches to handling the world hunger problem?

  3. Using the Internet, go to Select your state and county on the map and review the information provided for food stability and SNAP use. Discuss the extent of the hunger problem in the area.

  4. Split the class into several small research groups. Looking at American domestic policy regarding hunger in this country, there are many ways that hunger is addressed in the nation. There are government programs, such as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). There are also private organizations, such as food pantries, food banks, food rescue organizations (Second Harvest) and emergency (soup) kitchens. Let each research group investigate a specific governmental or nongovernmental program that deals with hunger in the country. (As each team selects their program, have them "register" the name with the teacher so that no two groups are researching the same program.) Since all groups will be working only on programs that deal with hunger within the United States, they should only complete the top half of the worksheet.

  5. Let each team report on their program. When the reporting is finished, ask the whole group to discuss whether the programs, when taken in their entirety, are effective in reaching most Americans. Why does hunger still exist even though the problem is being handled by both government and nongovernmental groups?

  6. To begin a look at international programs dealing with hunger, go to and look at the program run by Heifer International. What is their approach to hunger? How does this program differ from the previously researched programs?

  7. Explain that a lot of the problems of hunger in the world are the result of disasters, both human-made and natural. Ask for examples of each type. Let the research teams reform and begin their research for governmental and nongovernmental programs that deal with the problem of hunger on a global basis. Use resources in the bibliography. Use the same procedure of "registering" the program so no programs are researched by more than one team.

  8. Let each team report on their program. When the reporting is completed, discuss how important nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have become in working with governments to handle problems related to food. How effective would governments be without the aid of NGOs? Behind all the "giving" of aid to the hungry lies the philanthropy of people all over the world. They give of their time, their talent and their money. Although most people don’t characterize this giving as "philanthropy," that is what it is. As a review of the unit, ask the learners to give specific examples of philanthropy related to the problem of hunger.

  9. At this point in the unit, the learners have taken a long route in understanding the problems of nutrition and hunger. They looked at what constitutes good nutritional practices and compared them to their own eating practices. They investigated the difference between hunger and malnutrition and looked at the problem of hunger in their own community, studying the ways the local community deals with the problem. They looked at national and international practices of dealing with hunger, both through governmental and nongovernmental programs. They saw how philanthropy is present in many ways in programs that deal with hunger. Using their journals, have the learners reflect on the following questions:

  10. When I think of my own personal approach toward food, I resolve to...

    • When I think of nutrition, I now understand that...
    • When I think of the problem of feeding the hungry in my community, I recognize the work of...
    • When I think of hunger on a global scale, I support the efforts of...

Assessment of learning may be taken from the completed worksheets and the journal reflections.

Cross Curriculum 

Mr. Dikeman is a lead teacher and social action co-teacher at Decatur Central High School in Indiana. "Teaching through service-learning allows hands-on learning experiences to help students make connections between their school and their community," said Dikeman. "Allowing students the hands-on ability to create an impact and thrive during a non-traditional learning experience brings a great sense of pride to me.”  

Read about the service-learning project called DC Students in Action by students who were taught using this Making a Difference lesson to guide student learning and action. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. 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. Benchmark HS.2 Provide examples from history of how the relationship between government and the civil society sector has changed.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and describe how civil society sector organizations help people nationally and internationally.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Examine the role of a country as a member of various international communities.