Saturday, May 8, 2010

World Hunger and the Right to Food

As the spring sun warms the earth each of us may be working with our children to plant our summer gardens. Beans, peas, carrots, corn, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh berries are but a few of the many fruits and vegetables we cultivate and enjoy in the summertime. The garden is a constant reminder of the abundance of life.

Bountiful summertime gardens also provide a perfect backdrop for our scouts to consider the problem of hunger. Hunger and poverty plague children and families around the globe. United Nation studies provide some quick facts about hunger that we should consider:

* World hunger organizations estimate that nearly 1 BILLION people around the world are chronically hungry.

* 25,000 children die every day of hunger or diseases resulting from hunger.

* Every six seconds a child dies because of hunger and related causes. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2004)

* 65 percent of the world’s hungry live in seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. (FAO, 2008)

* 36.2 million Americans, including 12.4 million children, are food insecure and at risk of hunger. (United States Department of Agriculture, 2007)

* 13 million children in the U.S. go to bed hungry. (Bread for the World, 2004)

* In the U.S. hunger and race are related. 22.4% of Black and 17.8% of Latino households experience food insecurity over the course of the year, as compared to 8.1% of White households. (Children's HealthWatch, formerly known as the Children’s Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program, 2007)

Earth Scouts facilitators have a variety of resources and curriculums that can help to organize Earth Scouts activities and service projects. First, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has put together a series of resource guides concerning world hunger.

The Right to Food: A Window on the World

This storybook is illustrated by young people for young people. Through a compilation of eight stories from around the globe, The Right to Food explains how it should be the right of every person to be free from hunger.

The Right To Food: A Window on the World Resource and Activity Guide

This activity guide helps teach young people that they are an important part of the solution to world hunger. By going through the activities, youth learn that every person deserves the right to be free from hunger. More importantly, they gain an understanding that every member of society, themselves included, must protect, defend and promote that right.

Another resource is the nonprofit organization Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger. This global education initiative was designed to encourage teachers and youth to "actively participate in creating a world free from hunger." They have created three lessons for three levels of education: primary, intermediate, and secondary. These lessons address the following questions:

  • What are hunger and malnutrition?

  • Who are the hungry?

  • Why is there hunger in the world?

  • What can we do to end world hunger?

One resource specifically targeted for middle school and high school youth is Finding Solutions to Hunger: Kids Can Make a Difference. This guide contains 25 lessons that can be used by our facilitators "to help students answer the difficult questions dealing with hunger and poverty. The book helps students move beyond negative feelings into constructive actions that show that they can make a difference in their community, country and world. Book includes fund-raising ideas, organizations to contact, and a listing of available videos and books for use with lessons."

Here are some fantastic books and articles for our scouts that address hunger:

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

This story tells of Uncle Willie and his nephew who work together to feed the hungry at a local soup kitchen.

Seedfolks by Paul Fleichmann

A vacant lot is transformed into an abundant garden. Thirteen different voices tell of how this garden affected their neighborhood.

The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer by Ann Arnold

This is the story of Alexis Soyer, the chef who helped establish a soup kitchen during the potato famine in Ireland.

The City That Ended Hunger by Frances Moore Lappe

Learn how the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil solved the hunger problem. Earth Scouts will be amazed at how people can eat without the need for government programs. Be sure to check out this corresponding Visual Learning lesson plan.

If you choose to address the issue of hunger this summer, please be sure to check out the Earth Scouts Read to Feed summer service project. This program, designed by Heifer International, empowers children and youth to solve the world hunger problem. This program also provides a variety of resources to help our facilitators teach about the themes of hunger, poverty, and sustainable development. This project will allow our scouts to work together as they make a difference in the world!