On October 16th, the 5th grade garden classes discussed and covered the topics of agriculture, hunger, malnutrition, food instability, and food security in acknowledgement of World Food Day. We adapted a lesson plan promoted by Oxfam and The National Gardening Association, which you can download here [World Food Day Lesson Download].
It was an exciting day to see how students at this grade level and demographic perceived the topics listed above as we had not used this lesson yet during garden time. Having the chance to incorporate food justice and social justice topics into our garden classes is important for me as a garden educator, because it touches upon the social aspects of food production and choices, and it opens the ideas to students that growing veggies and plants in a school garden has a broader purpose beyond a lot of the science and math curriculum required at times. Beginning at the K-5 age, I hope that growing curriculum around food justice subjects will become stepping stones to an early understanding of the many processes involved in moving food from farm to table. I also hope that dialogue stemming from such lessons will help remind students the role a school garden/local garden can play in their community.
(Please feel free to share any lesson plans you know of regarding food justice by leaving a comment as we are trying to find more creative ways to have these discussions during garden time. Hunger Map above that was shown during our lesson was created by The World Food Programme).
At the end of the lesson, I had our 5th grade students write down answers to the questions “What can you do to help reduce hunger at home, in your community, or in the world?” OR “How can you use our school garden to reduce hunger and malnutrition in our community?” Here are some of their responses:
“Eat more veggies and store it.”
“Make a community garden.”
“We can save food by not wasting.”
“Grow own food.”
“Garden at home.”
“We can help donate our food/vegetables to the foodless.”
“Be the President and make healthy food cheaper.”
“Sell nutritious food – lower cost.”
“I can reduce hunger by growing my own mini garden so I won’t have to buy food that often. Probably just seeds.”
“If you are a millionaire or billionaire like Bill Gates, use your money to help people have food.”
“My idea so people won’t have any trouble, I think they should store food for later/future.”
“Grow more food and you can grow food in your garden and sell it. Most importantly organic and health food.”
Below is a sample worksheet that we filled in together via pair and group discussion. We asked students to list products that come from the Five Fs of Agriculture. After reviewing the definition of each term, we then asked them to list what it would feel like to be hungry or malnourished. Lastly, they brainstormed what could be causes of food instability.