Food for Thought Middle School Unit by the Westminster Schools
How is our food grown and harvested and by whom? Who am I in relationship to my community? In what ways can I give? How can I make a difference for a cause or issue about which I care?
"Food for Thought” is a service-learning unit for the entire seventh grade that engages students in thinking about how food is grown and harvested, the challenges of meeting the basic need of food, the issue of “food insecurity” in the world, and the power of advocacy. This three- to four-week curriculum occurs mainly in English (during study of the Steinbeck novel, Of Mice and Men), and also in Advisement, History and Bible classes. Advisement is used to continue and deepen the learning, to have guest speakers, and to provide off-campus, experiential exploration of the topic. Through readings, research, site visits, and local speakers, students are challenged to think about food in a new way and connect to their local community.
In the fall before this unit occurs, Westminster students have a similar experience around the topic of immigration, where they look at their own families’ stories and learn about the immigration stories of others in their community.
Before teaching the course, take this educator mini-course that prepares the educator for teaching and leading "Food for Thought": Teaching "Food for Thought": A Middle School Interdisciplinary Unit “Food for Thought” teachers and advisors meet before the topics are introduced to share ideas and best practices for incorporating these themes into their current curriculum.
Authors and/or teachers of this unit: Seventh grade English, History, and Bible teachers and advisors Jan Allen, Hartley Glass, Leslie Ann Little, Lydia Hansen, Tina McCormick, Colin Mackey, Russell Wrenn, Carter Thomas, Catherine Zidow, Callie Crabb, Jim Falcetti, Joey Jarrell, Chuck Breithaupt, Eric Centeno, and Melanie Lester.
To help students understand the challenges of feeding a family a healthy meal on a limited budget.
To help students understand how nonprofit organizations effectively address issues of poverty, food insecurity, immigration, and disenfranchisement locally and globally. To help students experience and understand how farming works.
To help students understand how to use their voices to advocate for causes about which they care.
For students to choose a cause to which they have a personal connection and write letters to advocate for change.
To help students see music as an art form that identifies social injustice, advocates for change, and proclaims hope on behalf of the forgotten.
To produce paintings or drawings that represent their “Dream of Peace” and that are submitted to an art competition.
A teacher using this lesson can look for art competitions locally or nationally that are sponsored by a museum, organization, or school district; a teacher might consider hosting a competition or exhibit at your school to recognize students’ work. Westminster students were preparing art focused on their visions of peace for a contest sponsored by Friendship Force International, and exhibited at an international gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
To help students understand important events in U.S. History during the time period of the setting for the novel Of Mice and Men; these include westward expansion, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.