Thoughts on Global Hunger

9, 10, 11, 12

Depictions of hunger in excerpts from Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist provide concrete images of hunger as learners determine its causes and decide whether to support a change in U.S. public policy related to the issue.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • compare authors’ treatment of hunger in world literature.
  • identify and explain causes of global hunger and malnutrition.
  • take a position on U.S. public policy toward world hunger.

student copies of handouts (below):

  • Excerpt from Jane Eyre 
  • Excerpt from Oliver Twist 
  • Facts on Global Hunger 
  • Reasons for Global Hunger 
  • Homework Assignment 
  • Related Web Sites 
  • Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Dover Publications, 2003. ISBN: 0486424499 
  • Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. New York: Dover Publications, 2002. ISBN: 0486424537
  • USDA Nutrition Resources for Children
  • "Hunger Basics: International Facts on Hunger and Poverty," Bread for the World Institute
  • Save the Children


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the learners to recall any instances in literature where the character(s) were hungry. What images did the author evoke to describe hunger?

  2. Distribute the handouts Excerpt from Jane Eyre to half the class and Excerpt from Oliver Twist to the other half. Discuss the images the authors evoked to describe hunger. How effective was it? Ask the learners to compare these images of hunger with previous images they usually had of what hunger looked or felt like.

  3. Introduce Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. [] Ask them to share the fact(s) they found most surprising or most interesting.

  4. Ask students to name some facts about and reasons for world hunger and malnutrition. Make a list of students’ ideas on the board.

  5. Tell students to imagine a world withont hunger and tell them to illustrate the idea with symbols, words, and images -- what the community or world would look like if in ten years the issue of hunger and poverty did not exist. 

  6. Discuss what students illustrated and ask them to share their thoughts and questions. Explore ideas that come up, such as market policies, justice, and inequities that influence hunger and poverty in the world. Encourage them to share what they have "heard."

    Guide students to take on an issue that sparks their interest and conduct an investigation. Their investigation should identify if what they heard is accurate and what they learned in the investigation (give them tips on media literacy). For example, one student may conduct research on the idea that raising cows for food is bad for health and the environment. Another student may research the impact of educating women on reducing poverty. Or someone may challenge the idea that the high cost of importing foods reduces the amount of food available to feed the population adequately. 

    What role does the government play, as a member of international organizations, in feeding the hungry in the world? What changes in public policy might be necessary if it were to increase its role in ending hunger?

  7. Introduce the homework assignment handout with a brief discussion of the reasons for and against U.S. involvement in reducing world hunger. 


The learners’ ability to cite facts related to global hunger and to identify and discuss reasons for global hunger and malnutrition will be assessed through teacher observation and student participation during class. The learners’ ability to take a position on U.S. involvement in reducing world hunger will be assessed by reading students’ journal entries. Teachers will look for a clear statement of the student’s position on the issue and ability to provide sound supporting arguments.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Examine the role of a country as a member of various international communities.


We will get these handouts uploaded this week. Thanks for your interest.