What Is "Real" Hunger? (9th Grade)

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners develop a greater understanding of hunger and malnutrition and explore ones responsibility to share unevenly distributed food resources.

PrintOne 50 minute class period

The learner will:

  • identify and differentiate between hunger and malnutrition.
  • identify and explore some of the reasons for hunger and malnutrition in our community and world.
  • articulate the responsibility that comes as a result of privileged access to the world's food resources.
Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.

Have each student write a one or two sentence response to at least three of the following prompts about their reaction to this lesson or recent service:
  1. I learned how to…
  2. I changed my mind about…
  3. I was feeling…
  4. I thought ….
  5. I was hoping that…
  6. I became convinced of…


  1. Anticipatory Set: As the learners enter the room have spread out before you a cookie, potato chips, and/or other "hi-calorie food" item(s), an apple, carrots or other vegetable and a soda, cup of coffee/tea, and/or a bottle of water, etc....be munching on one of these items and sipping on one of the beverages. It is anticipated that one of the learners will point out to you or to their classmates that you are eating. Respond to this pronouncement/inquiry by saying loud enough for everyone to hear, “Hey! What? I’m hungry.” Again anticipate or solicit some sort of response from the class. Ask "Have you ever been hungry? I mean "really" hungry?" "I suppose that you would like me to share my food with you, right?" Assuming an affirmative reply, tell the class that this is what they will be talking about today; people who do not have food or resources to get food and who are hoping that someone will share their food with them."

  2. Write the words hunger and hungry on the display board in large letters and solicit learner input as to what the words mean to them while recording their responses on the display board.

  3. After an appropriate amount of discussion, pose the question, "Under what circumstances might someone become very hungry and what might be some of the reasons why hunger exists in a world that is so rich in food resources?" Write these responses on the display board.

  4. Once accomplished, point to those words or phrases offered by the learners that identify the lack of money as one of the reason for the existence of hungry in the world and pose these two questions 1) "Is it possible to be poor, or even live in poverty, and not be hungry?" 2) "Is it possible that someone could have plenty of money and still be hungry, based on our definition of hunger/hungry?" Encourage discussion and/or debate over the responses to this question.

  5. Have the learners share what might be some of the consequences of unsatisfied hunger. (i.e. illness, disease, death, etc.) and list their words and phrases on the display board as well.

  6. Point to the food you were eating when the learners entered the classroom and ask the questions, "The scientific and medical communities would say that even though I am eating this food to satisfy my hunger, some of it will not satisfy my "real hunger." Why do you think they would say that? What do you think the word "real hunger" refers to? Encourage discussion.

  7. Distribute a downloaded copy of Hunger and Malnutrition https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/hunger.html to each learner. Have them read this article and revisit the previous discussion about whether or not the food you were eating would or would not satisfy your real (nutritional) hunger. Have them identify the food that you have that is more likely to satisfy your real hunger and explain their selections.

  8. Distribute a downloaded copy of AFGHANISTAN: Food shortages cause grass eating... https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news/2008/03/10/food-shortages-cause-grass-eating-displacement After the learners have had a chance to read it, begin a discussion around what it means to satisfy hunger and what it means to satisfy real hunger. Ask the learners if they think the scientific and medical communities would say the same thing about the grass eaters "That even though eating grass might serve to satisfy one's hunger, it will not satisfy one's "real (nutritional) hunger." Ask the learners to identify what might be the consequences of not being able to satisfy one's real hunger and how these consequences might be the same or different from not being able to satisfy one's hunger as identified earlier in the discussion.

  9. Conclude this class period by having the learners recall their initial desire to have you share some of your food with them. Remind them too, that there are others who are hoping that we can share some of our food with them. Ask the class why one might choose to give of their time, money, food, etc to help (to act philanthropically toward) someone in need and if having more food than one actually needs for good health is one's right or is there some responsibility to share with those who have less or none at all? If time permits solicit the learner’s ideas about some of the many ways the class might be able to help people in the community and/or around the world who not only suffer from hunger but also from real hunger (malnutrition).


The learners will be assessed based on their involvement in the class discussions and the originality and practicality evident in their sharing of their thoughts and ideas.

Cross Curriculum 

Students come to a concensus on voluntary action to address an identified need related to poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify how subgroups and families in society demonstrate giving, volunteering, and civic involvement.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.13 Give examples of how philanthropy has reallocated limited resources through giving and citizen action.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
      3. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Compare and contrast opportunities for students to improve the common good to the opportunities available to students in other countries.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.