Nutrition and Poverty Overview

6, 7, 8

To help students understand the challenges of feeding a family a healthy meal on a limited budget.

Print55-minute class period

Students will:

  • Learn recommended nutritional guidelines.
  • Understand what is meant by “poverty line” including how much money each day a person might need for food.
  • Understand what is meant by “food desert.”
  • Hear about challenges many people face related to obtaining healthy food and keeping food fresh.

PowerPoint presentation(s) of guest speaker(s) (see "Poverty And Its Impact On Food" PowerPoint under "Handouts" below).

Teacher Preparation 

Teacher does research to better understand nutrition and how poverty and food insecurity affect nutritional choices and health. Teacher identifies and invites an outside speaker(s) with personal experience in nutrition and an understanding of how poverty affects food choices and health to create and make a presentation to students on this topic. This is an opportunity to invite a health teacher, science teacher, school chef or nutritionist.


Nutrition, poverty, food insecurity, poverty line, food desert 


Class discussion provides good reflection. Students also do a written reflection about what they learned. 


The following resources provide teachers with a good background understanding of hunger, poverty and food insecurity.  The Food Bank’s curriculum also provides additional information to use for presentations and activities a teacher can incorporate into their class. The newspaper articles here provide information and perspectives about these issues in Atlanta; teachers can substitute local news sources to help them understand these issues in their city or town.


  1. At Westminster, our school chef and school nutritionist prepare and deliver a presentation that, first, provides information about how and why they create the menus they do for our school. 

  2. The chef and nutritionist share information through a PowerPoint that informs students about the following:

    • What does poverty and food insecurity look like in our own community and how does that impact nutritional choices?
    • Why is food important and how is it connected to poverty?
    • What is the federally calculated “poverty line”?
    • How many people live below the poverty line in Atlanta and around the world? What percentage of the world and Atlanta lives on below $1.50 per day?
  3. The chef and nutritionist explain that most people in the world live on $1.50 per day. They provide visual images that help students see what meals would be like if they lived on $1.50 per day, addressing:

    • What does a full plate at a restaurant look like? What is its cost and nutritional value?
    • What does a full plate at Westminster look like? What is its cost and nutritional value?
    • Here’s what a 50¢ meal looks like at a restaurant (show plate visual).
    • Here’s what a 50¢ meal looks like at the Westminster dining hall (plate visual).
    • Here’s a meal (with zero overhead) that you could get at the grocery store for 50¢ (plate visual).
    • Here’s what you can get at the local convenience store for 50¢ and its nutritional value (plate visual).
    • Here’s fast food for 50¢ and its nutritional value (plate visual).
  4. Guest speakers or the teacher offers discussion prompts to students to help them think through key questions (in preparation for presentations they will later develop):

    • Why is it that many people choose to eat at fast food restaurants or at convenience stores? Is it by choice or necessity?
    • Explain why you can’t just go to the farmer’s market and buy healthy food if you live below the poverty line (not just cost restrictions on the food itself, but also access issues like money for gas, bus fares or train fares).
    • Explain food deserts, and the need for electricity and refrigeration. For many people, the only option is fast food or gas station food. What are the health implications of this?

We don’t use an assessment, but a teacher could have a quiz or follow-up discussion grade, including connections made during reflection.