Healthy Food Choices - Are they Needs or Wants?

K, 1, 2

Students learn about food choices as needs or wants. They read a book and brainstorm why people cannot have everything they want and describe how people respond to needs (choice). Students create healthy food choice plates to advocate for healthy eating; students may choose to host a healthy food drive. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 50-Minute Class Period

Learners will:

  • develop vocabulary related to choices through discussion and the reading of the book, Gregory, The Terrible Eater
  • be able to identify healthy food choices as needs and unhealthy food choices as wants.
Home Connection 

Have students draw what they ate for dinner on a T-chart worksheet (divided by healthy/need and unhealthy/want) and have them share their drawing with a partner or the whole class the next day at school.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Introduce the vocabulary words: choices, needs and wants.

    • Wants: something you would like to have
    • Needs: things you need to survive
    • Choice: a decision between two or more options
  2. Read the book Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat

    Gregory is a goat who loves fruits, vegetables, eggs and fish, rather than typical goat fare of tires, cans, and t-shirts. Kids will find it hilarious that Gregory’s parents don’t want him to eat his fruits and veggies and instead want him to eat trash. Instead of being told what’s healthy, the kids will be pointing it out themselves in this book of silly role reversals.

  3. Reflect on the reading by asking the students to brainstorm Gregory's healthy and unhealthy choices using a T-chart. 

    • Be sure to correlate healthy food to what people need to survive and unhealthy food to the word wants.
  4. Now ask the students to brainstorm healthy and unhealthy food choices for humans and record on a new T-chart.

  5. Compare the two charts. 

  6. Have students use the human T- chart to draw a lunch plate. Students must include three healthy/need food choices they would like to eat for lunch. Have students also choose one want/unhealthy choice.

    • You could do this on a white paper plate and divide one small section for the unhealthy choice.
  7. Have students share their plates with the class. Make sure that you correlate healthy with need and unhealthy with want.  Remind students that this is just one of the many choices we must make during a day.

  8. Hang students' lunch plates around the room or hallway as a reminder to anyone who see's them of healthy/needs food choices.

    • Explain to students that by sharing their plates, they are educating others and therefore, they are advocates of healthy food choices. 
  9. Extension Activities 

    • Have the students make a meal plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner using healthy/need food choices.
    • Have the students cut pictures out of magazines or cut and paste on a google document healthy/need food choices.
    • Introduce vocabulary words: producer and consumer. Brainstorm or research different companies that produce different healthy/need and unhealthy/want foods. Have students write how their families consume different healthy/unhealthy foods from these companies.
  10. Service-Learning Extension 

    Have students do a healthy/need food drive for a local food bank. 

  11. Differentiation

    • Higher Learners: Have students draw a meal plan that uses all unhealthy/want food and write a paragraph about why these foods are bad for our health. 
    • Struggling Students: Teacher will work with each student one-on-one for support.

Ask each student to share a healthy (need) food choice orally the next day. 

The handouts here are evaluations that may be completed by parents and families, community partners, students, and teachers. These evaluations may be used in conjunction with any Learning to Give lesson, toolkit, or resource. The goal is to help you collect information about the impact of your philanthropy and service-learning instruction. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.