Set the Table
Students draw on the image of a table to make a plan for bringing their time, talent, and treasure to the table for children who are hungry in the community. Using the table as a theme, students carry out a service-learning project that addresses the issue of child hunger in the United States. This lesson includes an optional field trip for a simple community mapping activity.
Focus Question: What are some ways we can set a table for children who are hungry in our community?
The learner will:
- investigate child hunger locally or in the U.S.
- explore community resources and potential solutions to the issue of child hunger in the community.
- identify time, talent, and treasure students can "bring to the table."
- prepare for the service experience with planning and goal setting.
- take action through designing and carrying out a service to address the issue of hunger.
- use communication skills to advocate, promote, reflect, and demonstrate.
- optional extension - healthy plant (in pot or outdoors)
- materials for service project, as needed
Before meeting with the children, contact a local food bank to ask about their needs and ways that your class can help. Ask what their most-needed food items are. Ask about other ways young people can help, such as by raising awareness about the needs. Feeding America has a food bank locator here: https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank
Before the first session, preview this Sesame Street video "Growing Hope Against Hunger" and select parts you want to show the students to provide more understanding of the issue of hunger. https://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/food
For more information about community mapping, preview this resource on generationOn.org: https://www.generationon.org/sites/default/files/flat-page/files/community_mapping_for_youth.pdf
- 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
- hunger: an uneasy or unpleasant feeling caused by an empty stomach
- malnutrition: a state of poor nutrition caused by either insufficient food supply or by an unbalanced diet
- philanthropy: giving or sharing time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good
- starving: not having enough food to grow or be healthy
Read: An Ohio teacher asked her class, “Which is closer, Florida or the moon?” One student piped up with the answer, “The moon!” Amid the laughter of the other students, the teacher asked the student why he would say the moon, to which he replied, “Because you can’t see Florida!”
Discuss: Sometimes the things we can see seem closest to us when actually they are not. Other things may seem far away or invisible even when they are very close. Hunger in the world may seem to be in faraway countries or invisible to us. But hunger is right here in our own community and school. Now that we know about it, how can we make hunger in our own community more visible to others? How will our service project help lessen hunger in our own community?
- Bread for the World: https://www.bread.org/
- 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: https://map.feedingamerica.org/
- Feeding America has a food bank locator here: https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank
- FreeRice.com--Practice basic skills while earning rice for hungry people worldwide: www.freerice.com
Teacher Note: How do you address the issue of hunger with young people if some of your students have personal experience with hunger?
First of all, be sensitive as you discuss the issue, being careful not to speak negatively about circumstances or as if the problem is distant. Students who have personal experience with hunger may have good ideas about what helps, and may be the best advocates for getting help for others. There are many projects students can do that do not require contributions of money or food items. Students may share ideas, skills, hard work, artistic talent, or an activist voice. Raising awareness of and visibility to the issue are important elements of service that do not require “treasure.” By spending time on studying hunger issues in the community and guiding students to take action, you bring a loving heart to the table.
Anticipatory Set Set up a table in the classroom. Put a tablecloth on it and ask the students to name some things they could bring to the table that would make a meal for friends. As they suggest items, such as plates and favorite foods, tell them to imagine that you are bringing those things to the table. Then, ask them to imagine a table full ofplenty offood and friends. Maybe there is music playing and people are talking and laughing.
Ask the students if that table seems like a nice place to be. Then say, "What special friends would you want to invite to that special table?" Listen to some personal choices.
Ask the children if they know what it means to be hungry. Listen to their responses. Tell them that everyone feels hungry between meals, but there is a deeper hunger people feel when they don't have food for meals.
Say, "Some children in the United States are able to come to a table like this every day to eat healthy meals with family and friends. Many children in the United States do not have food to put on a special table like this. In fact, you probably know some children who do not have food to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. About 17 million children in this country are thinking right now about where they are going to get their next meal. They are not sure they will have enough to eat each day. They are 'food insecure.' Wouldn't it be nice to invite them to this very special table?"
Ask, "Shall we find a way to help children get food for their tables?" Listen to some of their suggestions.
Tell the students that they are going to make a very special table that will help bring food to hungry children. In order to prepare for that discussion, they are going to learn about some things they can do to help children who are hungry in their own community.Investigate the issue of child hunger by watching (parts of) this"Growing Hope Against Hunger" video on Sesame Street to help children understand the issue of hunger and ways young people can take action. https://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/food. The first six minutes introduce the issue, give some facts, and provide motivation for helping. After the video, ask the children to name some things young people can do to help.
Tell the students about a boy who took action to address a need in his community. "Will Lourcey, 9, saw a need in the community, made a plan, gathered his team, and took action. After seeing a man on a street corner carrying a sign that read 'Need a Meal,' Will wanted to do something to help. He brought together a group of friends to volunteer at a local food bank where they packed 6,000 backpacks with food for kids at-risk of hunger and served 500 families through Mobile Food Pantry. This was the start of FROGs: Friends Reaching Our Goals, whose motto is "Having fun while helping others." Ask the students whether young people can make a difference in helping young people. Discuss how their project centered around a table can make a difference.
Read aloud a book about hunger, food, or children taking action to change the world, such as Stone Soup or Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. On selected pages, stop and encourage the children to interact with the book in the following ways: identify words that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses; identify elements in the pictures that describe the people, setting, or events; discuss elements of the story, such as who, what, why, where, and when. Discuss how the characters took action and how their action made a difference to others.
Ask the children, What do people need to be healthy and grow? Their response might be food, water and shelter. All the children in the community share the same local resources, and we are all connected. We can help children get what they need. We can tell others about their needs and ask for help. Maybe people don't know that some children need food." Ask the children for creative ideas for how to tell others about the needs of children who are hungry.
Share with the children that many people and organizations are already working to address the issue of hunger. The government provides money for programs such as SNAP (government food assisstance program) and free and reduced lunches and breakfast at school. Some businesses donate money, and families and individuals share time and treasure to help people who are hungry. Even with all that help, more help is needed to address the problem.
In preparation for the next session, give students the homework assignment of asking family members about places in the community that provide food (and other services). Give them the question to discuss, "What are some places in our community that help people who are hungry get food?"
Optional Day Three
Continue investigation of the service-learning experience by takinga field trip in the community to map the resources available to community members. This may be a walk in an urban area or a drive for others. Point out resources that are available for all. This includes places that provide free services (library, shelter, parks, and community center) and resources that cost money (stores, mall, entertainment). Talk about where people who are food insecure can find resources.
Alternatives: Use Google Maps to virtually explore the community; have students recall places in the community that provide services.
Have students draw a simple map of the places they observed or researched. Discuss which organizations they could work with to help children who are hungry in the community.
Preparation, Action, Reflection, Demonstration
Start this session by asking the students, "What can we each bring to the table to make a difference for children who are hungry?" Prepare for the service project--"What Will You Bring to the Table?"--allowing students to make as many decisions as age appropriate. For example, your class may set up a table in the gym and invite families to donate canned goods for the local food bank. You may plant a garden and grow food to donate to a local pantry. The students can plan how to decorate a table and make posters telling about the food drive. They may paint a new or old table to look likea work of art and display it in the community along with information on how the community can bring something to the table for people who are hungry. Or students may make models of tables with pre-printed facts about child hunger in the United States and ideas for people to take action. Be creative to address a local hunger need. Help them narrow their ideas to one project they do together. Use problem solving skills to come to a consensus on a project with a table theme.
Have each student write a sentence (younger students may dictate their sentence while older students may write a whole paragraph) telling what they plan to "Bring to the Table." What they bring may be time, talent, or treasure. It may be a can of peas or that they will tell others about the issue.
Get started on taking action on the service-learning project. As students work on the table project, they can document what they are doing, keep graphs and records of food collected and donated, if you are collecting treasure. Plan and carry out the table project over several days and weeks, reflecting with students daily on how it is going, what needs to be done, and how they feel about their work. Work on this project while you continue to learn about hunger and reflect on progress and what the students are doing.
Reflect on how their service project is going. Make a chart on the board with a reflection question and have the students put a smiley face on the chart to show where their response lies. Discuss the class results. Sample questions: How do you feel about what you are bringing to the table? Is our project important or making a difference to children who are hungry?
After the project is complete, involve the students in reporting on the project in a formal demonstration that may include delivering supplies, thanking people who helped, and creatively demonstrating the success of the project. Be sure to tell the media and school community about the success. The demonstration may include a display of numbers and student work on the table. Invite families to view the demonstration, which may be a presentation or display.
The students design and carry out a service project called, "What Will You Bring to the Table?" The project involves taking action to address the issue of child hunger in their community through a food drive or awareness campaign. Part of the project involves decorating or building a table to raise awareness and encourage others to help children who are hungry. They may use a real table, a mural of a table, or a tablecloth set up in the lunchroom. They may be creative about their table and where it is displayed. The table may be a collection site for donations or a display that teaches others about the needs of children who are hungry. It may also be a gathering place for conversations about hunger and what they can do to address the issue.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
Benchmark E.2 Give an example of an individual who used social action to remedy an unjust condition.
Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
Benchmark E.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
Standard VS 03. Providing Service
Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.