Get Involved: Hunger Action Month
Chances are that food insecurity touches the lives of your students so dive in to understand the problem and look for ways to help
By Eliana Osborn
Hunger is something every child can understand, making it ideal as a first step in tackling big social issues that can overwhelm us all. Being sensitive to the different circumstances of those in your class, be sure to emphasize that a family’s finances don’t define whether they are good or bad people. Make sure discussions are safe zones where students can share or withhold comments. The videos listed in the next section do a good job of showing varying faces of hunger, underlining the point that not everyone who is hungry looks like you might expect.
Each morning, too many children in America are wondering if they will have enough food to eat. They might have parents who work hard and struggle to make ends meet, they may live in a shelter, or they may have recently had a tragedy in their family that caused unexpected expenses. The face of hunger isn’t just kids you might expect. In fact, one in five young people in this country experience what experts call food insecurity—not knowing where their next meal will come from.
- The website, No Kid Hungry, has a lot of kid-friendly graphics available to share some of the sobering statistics about hunger in America. Check out this infographic as a starting point.
- A short video on YouTube called “What Does Hunger Feel Like?” can put a face on the problem.
- Find out about hunger in your area with the Meal Gap Map from Feeding America.
- A public service announcement about childhood hunger comes with a viewing guide that is well-suited for classroom use.
Once you know what a big problem childhood hunger is, you have a responsibility to bring attention to the issue. Yuma, Arizona high school senior, Alyssa Arivzo, shared her passion for her local food bank by volunteering there over the course of her high school career. She even split a scholarship with the organization, putting her time and money into a cause that touched her heart.
Use the Hunger Knowledge Quiz to have students take what they’ve learned and share it with their families. Have them report back about the ensuing conversations.
Create brochures about hunger and available resources to be copied and given out to community organizations. A volunteer from your food bank would love to come talk to your group and receive a donation of posters or brochures to be used to increase awareness.
Food drives aren’t the best way to help fight hunger. Food banks are better able to help more people with cash donations, so consider some of the following ideas to raise funds:
- Donate your spare change to Feeding America by using the Coinstar machine at your local grocery store.
- How about a bake sale to benefit hunger organizations? No Kid Hungry has a whole page of resources on how to put together a bake sale, including flyers and signs and even t-shirts and advice for success.
- Consider forgoing presents for an upcoming birthday by dedicating your celebration to fighting hunger in your community. Kids Kick Hunger has ideas that might bring out the little social activists in any group.
No child can be successful without getting enough to eat, so take advantage of Hunger Action Month to bring awareness to the issue of hunger in America. Informed students can share the message and motivate the adults in their lives to do more to combat this serious problem.
Classroom-friendly curriculum about hunger created by the Oregon Food Bank. Tie your discussions in with content area math, history, and reading practice.
Service learning can be more powerful than once-a-year activities to help the hungry. Consistent involvement changes prejudices and leads to real learning.