They’re BACK! Our college students are home for winter break and they’ve brought a lot of baggage with them! Enjoy that first great big smile of recognition at the airport, followed by a wonderful hug and kiss.
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It’s that time of year. Seems like there are multiple parties every week between now and New Year’s Day. Cookie exchanges, office parties, tree trimming parties, ugly holiday sweater parties, neighborhood get-togethers, family events, New Year’s Eve and don’t forget Festivus for the Rest of Us!
The holidays are upon us. As we approach the days of festive get-togethers, parties, and dinners, we sometimes complain that we overindulge. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), shockingly there are approximately 49 million people in the United States, including nearly 16 million children, who live at risk of hunger everyday.
Service Learning Curriculum Ideas for Food Drive Projects that will Maximize Impact
By: NobleHour Special Contributors Dr. Kristin Joos and Shay Ernest
Food drives are intended to educate students about food inequity and encourage students to take action. But is this what is indeed happening in class rooms and campuses? When not properly planned, food drives can do just the opposite, producing unintended consequences that reinforce or exacerbate stereotypes students hold about people living in poverty. Today we are providing ways to use service learning to overcome common challenges of food drives and maximize your intended meaningful impact.
THE BIG PICTURE
Let us take one step back. To avoid negative outcomes, we need to first understand when there is an imbalance of education and action, food drives can unintentionally be piloted in the wrong direction. A private high school in San Francisco used to take students to the poorer parts of town to volunteer at soup kitchens and food banks for a few hours at a time. Malcolm Singer, the school director of community service-learning, explains what can happen when there is action without proper education, “What we realized, when we were driving them back to school, was that (students) were saying the same things about hunger and poverty that they had been saying the day before. We realized we were reinforcing the same negative stereotypes.” The same problem often occurs with food drives -- as there is typically little or no interaction between students and the community their donations are intended to help, and food drives may include little education about the root causes of hunger and poverty. The way to create a food drive that positively impacts both students and the community is simple – educate students about the issues of social justice and show them how to take action. Once a student becomes aware of the injustices in the world, they aspire to be a part of the improvement.
Nearly fifty million Americans face food insecurity. Education should be centered on the root causes of hunger and poverty with curriculum focusing on who, what, where, and why. Because food insecurity is such a multifaceted issue, it lends itself to easily being incorporated in different areas of study. Below is a list of curriculum ideas for starting discussion and research projects (please keep in mind many of the topics below are not exclusive to the subject they are listed under as there is much intersection between the issues:
- Define hunger and food insecurity.
- Investigate the impact of hunger and how many people it affects.
- Explore relationship of poverty and unequal distribution of food.
- Look at government response to national hunger.
- Research effects of malnutrition, obesity, diabetes.
- Compare rates of obesity in countries around the world with rates of malnutrition/hunger.
- Examine nutritional value versus cost of food.
- Look at MyPlate and USDA to understand what makes a healthy diet.
- Create a healthy menu for one week for a family of four. Price how much it costs to eat healthy.
- Define and examine the characteristics of food deserts.
- Identify the causes and consequences of food deserts.
- How does the neighborhood influence the choices made about health.
- Analyze the top five states with greatest food insecurity.
- Research SNAP and the Farm Bill.
- Create a formula to address the income needed to eliminate hunger; how much does it cost each week for a family of four to eat healthy? A single person?
- Define the current poverty guidelines.
- Create a budget for a set area (include housing, electricity, water, transportation, insurances, phone, internet); using the area’s minimum wage at forty hours a week as income, analyze how much is left over for food; discuss how unforeseen circumstances (sickness, school expenses, etc.) can affect food purchases.
- Determine what a family of four at poverty level would receive in government assistance. Could they feed their family healthy meals for this amount? If so, for how long? What income is needed?
- Have students track their own health budget for a week and compare it to various income levels and assistance programs.
- Social Sciences
- Study laws and policies impacting the rate of hunger, poverty, and lack of access to healthy food in America. Are new policies needed?
- Compare current rates of hunger in the US to rates during the 1980s and 1990s.
- Conduct comparative study for how others (various religions, cultures, ethnic groups, countries) approach the process of providing “charity” to the needy.
- Comparative study on who is hungry (rural vs urban, ethnic groups, age, etc.)
Now the fun part of service learning: taking action! Engage your students in a meaningful service project to enhance their learning and provide guided practice in social responsibility. Don’t just let the food drive end when a sufficient amount of cans are collected, connect the students to the community. Finding a food bank to work with will probably be the easiest part out of everything; there are food banks all across the nation. Feeding America is one of the largest food bank networks providing over 3.3 billion meals trough food pantries and meal programs. They have 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries serving more than 46 million people each year. Feeding America has a search on their website to help you find your local food bank. Conducting a food drive will require a little planning. Youth Service America provides an in-depth, mainly logistical guide to running a food drive, appropriate for the high school level. No Kid Hungry also has a guide to integrating service learning and eating healthy for classrooms. Please note that both of these materials can be adapted to fit students of different ages.
A FINAL THOUGHT
Canned food drives can be seen as placing a “Band-Aid” on the issues of hunger and food inequity. Service learning projects are the chance for a cure – an emerging generation of socially conscious students dedicated to empowering others, as well as themselves.
Are you ready to find a meaningful service learning project? Start your free NobleHour account today to find opportunities near you!
Photo: Dolly Duplantier
Super Bowl XLVIII is less than a week away. Approximately 108 million people are expected to watch. Not only will it be an economic boom for the New York/New Jersey area, but for
thousands and thousands of take-out and delivery restaurants, establishments with big screen televisions, as well as snack, liquor, and beverage distributors throughout the country.
Apparently Super Bowl Sunday is considered the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving. A few statistics show why. According to the National Chicken Council’s 2014 Wing Report, an estimated 1.25 billion wings will be devoured during the Super Bowl. Domino’s Pizza will sell more than 11 million slices of pizza this Sunday. And, according to the Nielson Company, nine out of ten people will watch the game at their home or a friend’s house. It’s one of the biggest events for friends and family to come together.
This got me thinking. Why can’t we enjoy this event and use it to spark a movement to help others? With this being the National Football League’s first cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl, it could be the highest-profile game in the event’s history. Fortunately, I’m not the only one who thinks we can use this opportunity do social good as well!
The NFL and the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee are harnessing the excitement of Super Bowl XLVIII to organize a number of community events and donation drives to provide support to those in need. The Snowflake Youth Foundation, a charity initiative of the Host Committee, was created to raise money and support for a number of local community projects, including the rehabilitation of after-school centers, support for the Super Community Blood Drives, and various environmental works. The foundation and its partner organizations have raised more than $11 million to support 50 projects to improve after-school facilities in New York and New Jersey communities.
“As this work illustrates, when the power of the world’s greatest sporting event is combined with the generosity of the New York and New Jersey region, an indisputable difference can be made in the lives of our youth.” Said Jonathan Tisch, Host Committee Co-Chairman in a recent statement issued by the foundation.
Kickoff to Rebuild is also an annual NFL sanctioned event. Hosted by Rebuilding Together, the organization partners with the NFL in Super Bowl cities across the country, rebuilding houses and bringing together neighborhoods, home by home, block by block. This month, they mobilized hundreds of volunteers, including past and present NFL players, community leaders, celebrities, and local and national sponsors to complete critical home repairs for thirteen local low-income homeowners. The repairs will improve the safety and health of homes for local residents in Bergen County, New Jersey, including seniors and families who were devastated by flooding from Superstorm Sandy.
Another event to capitalize on the excitement of the Super Bowl is the Super Community Coat Drive, which runs through February 7. Organized by the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, along with New York Cares, Jersey Cares, and other local organizations, individuals can donate gently used and freshly laundered coats at hundreds of locations throughout New York and New Jersey.
“The Super Community Coat Drive is an initiative that fits perfectly into the Host Committee’s mission to give back to the communities of New Jersey and New York,” said NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee President and CEO Al Kelly.
Throughout the 2013-14 season, the National Football League’s Taste of NFL asked fans to raise money online through their Kick Hunger Challenge. Fans from all 32 NFL teams and Brooklyn competed against each other all season by raising money online for food banks in NFL communities around the country. The funds raised will directly impact the donation of thousands of meals to food banks in each team’s community. Fans can go online till January 31, 2014, to make donations in the name of their favorite NFL team. The winning team gets an additional $10,000.
Dr. Melony Samuels is executive director and founder of Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, one of the designated food banks to receive funds. “They (NFL) created a team for us to raise money. It’s called Brooklyn, New York. We want to get everyone in New York to back us. We are fighting hunger for a good cause. We are one of the largest, if not the largest, emergency feeding program in New York City. We served 2.9 million meals to 338,951 individuals last year. We will continue to meet that need.”
In addition to the Kick Hunger Campaign, the NFL hosts Party with a Purpose®, a food and wine event in the host city on the eve of the Super Bowl. Chefs from each NFL city, provide food and wine pairings for guests to sample. Proceeds from the event also benefit food banks in each of the NFL cities.
So, why let the NFL have all the fun? People all over the country are planning Super Bowl parties this weekend. Samuels encourages everyone to have their own canned food drives. “Tell their guests to bring a can or two to donate to an emergency feeding program.”
She also encourages schools and colleges to start a buzz in their different communities; to have clubs and organizations compete against each other and raise money for their local food banks. Samuels said one of the easiest ways to find your nearest emergency feeding program is to call 311 or theHunger Hotline at 1-866-3Hungry. She also suggests contacting your local city hall or city council. “Local people know what is going on in the community,” said Samuels. “They can easily tell you where the programs are. When families are hungry, it’s not a secret.”
According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, approximately 48 million people in the U.S., including 17 million children, lack access to adequate food. “If every group just donated $20, it could help many families,” said Samuels. “We could purchase at least 15 meals with $20. Sometimes if we get good prices, we can get $1 a meal.”
While 48 million may seem insurmountable, just imagine if everyone of the over 100 million viewers donated $10 to their local food bank or donated a can of food or a gently used coat, hat, or set of gloves to their Super Bowl party. Or, imagine if we decided that the following Sunday, we would get together with friends and family and volunteer our time to a local community organization. It might not be an economic boom, but it would be a positive one. How will you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? Join in the excitement and support your community!
Want to find service opportunities in your area? NobleHour's easy to use software can help you find events, as well as help you find, manage, and engage a community of volunteers. It's perfect for schools, nonprofits, and businesses wanting to make a difference in their community.