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Background For Teachers:
Realization of world hunger is a problem which needs to be a concern for all the people of the world. It is not a problem just for those it directly affects.
As citizens of the United States of America (U.S.A.) we constitute about 6% of the world's population. If the students in this classroom represented the world population then two people (have 2 students stand) would represent the population of the United States. Imagine these two people consuming 40%, or a little under half, of all the resources produced by everyone in the class. For example, these two would eat close to half of all combined lunches of the class.
It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it. And, if not ridiculous, it certainly sounds unfair. Well, it is true! The United States constitutes about 6% of the world's population and consumes about 40% of the world's resources. Resources include fuel, manufacturing materials, fabrics, food, and many other commodities. (Illustrate these facts by drawing pie charts on the board - one for population and one for world resources.)
In the U.S.A. we have so much food that we have millions of people who are trying to eat less, so they can lose weight. Dieting is almost a national obsession and is sometimes a health hazard.
Food is the resource we are most concerned about in our discussion on world hunger. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that of the world's 6-billion-plus people: (NOTE: these facts would make a good bulletin board)
The four groups most often suffer the effects of hunger and malnutrition due to high nutrient needs or low tissue reserves are: children, pregnant women, those who are ill, and the elderly.
People in other countries also have an obsession. Their obsession is to have enough food to eat and to maintain life. Many are so poor they do not have the means to buy enough food for their families to stay well and stay alive. Many countries do not have the abundance of food which U.S. citizens have available.
FACTS TO KNOW:
Pose the following question to students: "How can hunger be controlled?" To answer that question, other questions must be asked and answered first. What is meant by restricting the poor's access to food? How can these restrictions be removed? Adequate nutrition can be achieved only when the economics, political, and social structures that hinder food consumption become the targets of change, both at home and abroad.
WHAT IS HUNGER?
When people in the United States go to the grocery store they have a choice of thousands of products including fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products, as well as countless prepared foods. Few nations in the world have these choices. Even people in some supposedly developed countries have limited food choices.
In the book Mig Pilot, John Barron tells of the escape of Viktor Belenko, a Russian pilot, who defects to the United States. At one point his CIA companions take Viktor to a shopping center. This story illustrates that in many modern countries people have limited resources and only the very rich in many other nations can afford the things that United States citizens often take for granted.
In countries known as third world countries, or developing countries, the food situation is much more severe. In countries such as India, several areas of Africa, and parts of South America hundreds of people die of starvation every day.
It is hard for us to imagine situations like the one described in the poem, THE ARITHMETIC OF POVERTY.
VARIATION: Use a blank world map (THE WORLD) and Culturegrams available from BYU (see resources), a printed map or world globe to have students identify industrialized and developing countries. Supplement with videos or current world events from websites, news magazines, and newspapers.
Use the following from the background information (possible transparencies) to help students see the enormity of the world problem.
Find pictures, video presentations or slides which will visually show the hunger problem in the world.
Summarize the principals of global hunger using HUNGER IN THE WORLD.
Students will listen to the class reports and take notes using WORLD HUNGER CLASS NOTES worksheet.
Question #1: What was Viktor's reaction to the shopping center? Have students identify the differences in grocery markets both here in the United States and the shops Victor described in Russia.
Question #2: How would you react to a grocery store like the ones in Russia described in the account?
Question #3: Would you consider Russia an under-developed country?
Question #4: How do you think you would feel if you were in Victor Belenko's shoes?
TEACHER NOTE: Underdeveloped countries are not technologically advanced. Nations in what was formerly the Soviet Union have the technology but do not have the free economics and are therefore struggling.
(Students' ideas may seem unrealistic; the teacher needs to push them with their ideas.)
Possible answers: (let students respond freely)
NOTE TO TEACHER: One way to do this is to seat the students at tables. Place cards can indicate the country assigned to the students. Food should be prepared and served after they are seated, or placed on a platter in the center of the table and covered with plates or foil. All students receive or uncover their meals at the same time. Have students eat their meals. Allow plenty of time to share feelings.
VARIATION: Select a number of students to participate in this activity. Have the rest of the class be silent observers and record silently their observations of the participating students on WORLD HUNGER OBSERVATION SHEET. This would save on the food budget by not having to supply so much food for the entire class's participation. If the cost of this lab is a factor, the exercise could be done with food models, however, it will not be as effective.
Discuss how students felt during the experience. Plan sufficient time (10-20 minutes) for the discussion, as this is critical to success of the option.
NOTE TO TEACHER: Remember that different foreign countries are similar to the United States in that they have different regions and regional foods, e.g. one region of Mexico might have corn as a staple and another might not even eat corn.
Have the students put themselves in the place of someone who is starving. Like the Indian mother who wrote the poem about hunger, the students will write a poem about hunger and the tragedies that accompany it. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings about the problem of world hunger. Share the writings.
Display the completed poetry on bulletin boards or have them printed in the school paper, town paper, entered in the PTSA Reflections contest, etc. The use of computer graphics would enhance the display.
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