What’s for Lunch? is a tool for educators, a bouncing-off point for discussions that range from poverty and hunger to the environmental impact of food production and distribution, to global political and social issues.
HOW to get STARTED
1. Read the book What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World with your class to introduce the idea of the food system to children.
2. Download the FREE teaching guide available (5 MB) to connect with your curriculum in many subjects (see list below).
3. Bring in some of the books we’ve highlighted here —or choose your own—to get your class talking about food and growing things.
4. Use the links below to films, websites and other writers talking about food and school lunch issues to develop the ideas further.
5. Brainstorm with your class about how they can get involved and take charge of the food system. Consider some of the ideas on the Take Action page or in What’s for Lunch?
Social Studies: international connections; international trade; developed/developing world; food as a global commodity; the nutrition transition; urban growth; urban agriculture; food systems change and adaptation.
Science & Technology: food chains; habitats; food systems; agriculture; health & the environment; diet-related illness; biodiversity; composting; recycling; food waste; food production (impact on society and the environment); organic agriculture; food miles; school gardens.
Health/Physical Education: nutrients/micronutrients; preservatives/additives; labelling; societal factors that influence eating habits; diet-related illness.
Media Literacy: influence of fast food marketing; interpreting media texts.
LINKS for TEACHERS
Nourish: Food + Community is a brilliant and beautifully produced education initiative that includes films, curriculum ideas and activities, information as well as a place for learning about other schools and communities that are taking charge of what they eat and grow. Created by WorldLink, Nourish’s curriculum element was developed by the Center for Ecoliteracy. This is an incredible package and much of it is available free.
USC Canada advocates for small farmers and healthy ecosystems. Among many other things, its site offers a short film called The Story of Food, plus fun teaching games like Rice Web and Banana Web—in which kids use yarn and story cards to explore how these foods make it from seed to table. There are resources for both primary and middle school teachers, and they even provide a Powerpoint presentation about what kids and school communities can do to campaign for food justice—including food art, guerilla gardening and guerilla eating.
How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers, by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance. Aimed at parents and teachers, this fabulous resource book has tons of practical advice, charts and lists (say, how to stock your tool shed or how to get a reluctant principal on side), curriculum ideas, stories and more. Well worth a read if you’re thinking about taking the plunge into a school garden project.
The Good Garden is a children’s book and website of the same name that uses the inspiring story of Maria, a Honduran girl, to teach about food security and the potential of sustainable farming. With classroom support, curriculum links, a quiz, background information (on food issues, Honduras, hunger, sustainability, etc.) and much more, the web site complements the book as well as being an incredible resource on its own.
Jaste is the Journal for Activist Science and Technology Education. This special issue on Education, Food Justice and Sustainability is useful for teachers interested in talking about food justice issues with their students ages 9+. See especially Kamla Ross McGregor’s Creating a Food-centred Curriculum that Promotes Activism: Lessons from the Field.
Food Force is an educational video game created by the World Food Program to help kids understand world hunger and food insecurity. There are also lots of resources for teachers to unpack what the children learn in the game’s six missions assisting the crisis-ridden fictional island of Sheylan.
LunchLine: A Game of Wits and Cottage Cheese is a fun, computer-based game that helps kids learn about choosing foods in the lunch line that meet their nutritional and calorie requirements.
Feeding Minds Fighting Hunger offers curriculum that encourages teachers, students and young people to become involved in helping create a world free from hunger and malnutrition.
The Museum of Natural History in NYC has a great food exhibit on these days called Our Global Kitchen. They’ve also produced teaching resources for all grades to accompany the show. Even if you can’t take your class to New York, there are tons of ideas that can be brought into classrooms to support learning about issues that range from biodiversity to hunger and climate change.
MOVIES about FOOD and KIDS
What’s on your plate? is a documentary following two young girls as they sort through how the food they eat affects their bodies, their health, their families, community and the planet. “Exactly the film we need now,” says Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
And This Is My Garden A documentary about two teachers who use gardens as an educational tool at their Northern Manitoba school. The film won Most Inspirational at a 2010 film fest in Georgia. Check out my blog post for more information.
Lunch Love Community Documentary Project is an ongoing California-based project that offers a series of webisodes chronicling the story of the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative, a community-based reform movement that’s transformed school lunch in the Berkeley school district.The webisodes run the gamut from school gardens and cooking programs to the role of parents and the people who make the food. The filmmakers intend to collect it all into a full-length documentary.
The Story of Food is a short film from USC Canada (an organization working on food issues, especially as they relate to small farmers) that acts as a kind of primer for kids learning about the food system. The film breaks down how food has changed over the last 50 years, what these changes have done to our environment and what we can all do about it.
USEFUL LINKS about SCHOOL FOOD
The Lunch Tray Freelance writer and mom Bettina Elias Siegel on “kids and food, in school and out”
Fed up with Lunch The School Lunch Project: one brave American teacher attempted to eat what the kids were eating all year long—and lived to write a book about it.
Edible Schoolyard is the brainchild of chef Alice Water—a growing, cooking, sharing school garden and education centre in Berkeley, California.
School Food Trust is the British agency charged with transforming school food and educating children and young people about the benefits of healthy eating.
Jackie’s School Food Blog chronicles the adventures of a English teacher and mom involved in the campaign in the UK to make school meals healthful and tasty.
USEFUL LINKS on FOOD ISSUES
The Stop Community Food Centre is a nonprofit organization in Toronto, Canada, that has an innovative approach to hunger and poverty. You can learn more about its sustainable food education program for kids and the unique community food centre model the organization is pioneering on its website.
World Food Program is the world’s leading humanitarian organization fighting hunger around the world. In 2010, WFP will helped 90 million people in 73 countries get access to food.
FoodShare is a Toronto organization whose mission is Good Healthy Food for All.
Sustain is a British organization that advocates for better food and farming, pushing for “food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.”
Centre for Ecoliteracy supports and advances education for sustainability.
Edible City is garden guru Lorraine Johnson’s blog on urban farming and more
The Locavore is Sarah Elton’s blog about her locavore adventures in support of her brand new book Locavore: From Farmers’ Fields to Rooftop Gardens, How Canadians are Changing the Way We Eat.
It’s Not About Nutrition A blog full of insight and excellent advice about children and healthy eating from Food Sociologist and mom, Dina Rose.