Favorite Foods

K, 1, 2

Children self-select their favorite foods and compare the health and popularity of their favorite foods. They explore what makes sharing a meal with friends and family a good experience. After reading Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen, they gain appreciation for the warm, caring environment in a community soup kitchen. This lesson raises awareness and empathy for people who experience food insecurity.

PrintTwo 30-Minute Sessions

The learner will:

  • define hunger, starvation, and food insecurity
  • compare and contrast sharing meals with friends and family with eating at a soup kitchen
  • connect adequate healthy eating with a person's well-being.
  • a read-aloud copy of Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
  • self-stick notes, one per child
  • markers or crayons
  • Handouts for educator background information, not for student use
  • food insecurity: the risk or fear of not having consistent access to food that meets people's dietary needs and food preferences; not being sure one will have enough food or the right food to feel full, grow, and be healthy
  • starving: not having enough food to grow or be healthy
  • hunger: an uneasy or unpleasant feeling caused by an empty stomach

Before participating in a service project related to health and hunger, this lesson raises children's sensitivity to the diversity of lifestyles related to food security. Have the children reflect quietly for two minutes on what they wish for all people related to food security. Say, "Close your eyes and imagine all the people of the world have enough to eat. How does that make you feel? Sit quietly with that image in mind."


DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. NY: HarperCollins, 1997. ISBN-13: 978-0688152857

Feeding America--Scroll over the different states to see their hunger statistics and compare:

FreeRice.com--Practice basic skills while earning rice for hungry people worldwide:

USDA “Choose My Plate”--Our nation’s current dietary suggestions.





  1. Teacher Note: Be sensitive that mealtimes may not be positive for all children.

    Anticipatory Set

    Ask the children about their favorite foods. Have a brief discussion about foods that the children like to eat.

  2. Give each child a self-stick note and have them draw a picture of one favorite food. When they have completed their drawings, ask a few children to name the food they illustrated and to stick it to a spot on the wall.

  3. Ask if anyone else chose the same food (if so, they add their illustration to the same spot on the wall). Ask these children to stand near their illustrations.

  4. Continue calling on children until everyone has had an opportunity to post their food illustration and is standing in a group. Ask the children what they notice about the groups by asking the following questions:

    • Which group has the most children? Why do you think that is so?
    • Which groups do you think represent foods that are the healthiest for our bodies? Why?
    • If you didn’t have the one food you illustrated for a whole week, do you think you would starve? Why or why not?
    • Is your favorite food healthy?
  5. Define hunger, starvation, and food insecurity. Ask children to describe the feeling of being hungry between meals. Ask them what activities are difficult to do when they are hungry (schoolwork, thinking, cooperating).

  6. Day Two

  7. Ask the children to name their favorite place to eat. Ask them to think about how they are able to get food there. Lead the discussion to the idea that someone pays for that food. Note: Be sensitive that there may be children who are food insecure in your classroom.

  8. Lead children to recognize that a soup kitchen may provide a warm, caring community for people. Tell the children you are going to read about a special place where people can go to eat if they don't have enough money to buy food and stay healthy. Read aloud the book Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. As you read, talk about the details, ask children to predict what will happen next, and check for understanding.

  9. After reading, discuss the following questions:

    • How does the boy in the story feel about the soup kitchen?
    • How can you tell?
    • Why are soup kitchens so important? How do they help the community?
    • Where do you think the food comes from to feed the guests at the soup kitchen?
    • Do you think soup is the only food served there?
    • What do you think we could do to help if this soup kitchen was in our town?
  10. Have students pair up and discuss what they enjoy most about sitting down for a meal with their school mates. Ask them to discuss what volunteers at a soup kitchen could do that would give visitors that same enjoyment. Ask a few students to tell the whole class what they discussed with their partner.

  11. What can students do to increase the fun and sense of community for the children visiting the soup kitchen?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.13 Describe limited resources and scarcity.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.