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Thanksgiving and the holiday season turn our thoughts to those in need- those in poverty, homelessness, and hunger.  Canned food drives are a natural service-project for this time of the year; however, it is essential that a canned food drive becomes a service-LEARNING project.  It is easy to assume that students understand the concept of “HUNGER”.  Yet on closer examination, it is often not clear that the true meanings of hunger and poverty are evident to our students.  It is incumbent upon us to give our students a clear picture of the need for intervention and guidance for making a difference.  We need to make students Hungry to Help!

Did you know:  1 in 5 students in the United States does not know where the next meal is coming from? 16.2 million children in the United States experience hunger every year while 815 million people go hungry worldwide?  50 million people in the US, including 11.5 million children, live in poverty while 387 million people worldwide live below the poverty level? 41 million households suffer from food insecurity and 26% of those households live just above the poverty level so that they do not qualify for assistance?

The need is real, but the opportunities to help are real, too!  There are many ways for students to have a positive effect on the problems of hunger and poverty.  A great way to explore the many different service-learning opportunities for students is with the K-12 Hunger, Homelessness, and Poverty Toolkit on www.learningtogive.org.  From this Toolkit, educators can find lessons, projects, and other resources to assist students with a greater knowledge of the needs and opportunities to make a difference. Additional resources can also be found on this Toolkit on LTG:   Food Security and Food Justice Toolkit 

One lesson  Hunger and Homelessness, introduces students to hunger and homelessness.  The students read a Chinese proverb about a boy who chooses to give his four dollars to a homeless man.  The reading sets up conversations about selflessness and giving.

Another lesson, Meeting Needs Through Sharing, raises learners’ awareness of homelessness and difficulties people experience with poverty.  Students explore ways that they might address poverty in their community and the benefits of being Hungry to Help.

Global Hunger and Malnutrition lesson teaches students that hunger is a global issue and how the four sectors of society have a role in solving this problem  Students are challenged to use their time, talent, and treasure to find ways to make a difference.

Are You Hungry to Help? Uses the Eric Carle book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to help students discuss what hunger really is and how they can take part in alleviating hunger in their community.

Some suggested project ideas for a class or school include:  

Students at New Palestine Intermediate School used their Innovation Period to get involved in service-learning.  Under the direction of teacher Debra Weiler, the students used the TeachOne Lesson, Community of Crayon Collectors from LTG to prepare for service.  With the help of a mini grant from generationOn Indiana, they collected gently used crayons and coloring books; after sorting the crayons and creating new coloring books from the unused pages of the donated ones, students compiled care packages for children in the local homeless shelter.  The students became so excited about the project that they involved the entire community and held a crayon and coloring book drive during the football game for homecoming. Check out this YouTube video of their project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqjvs9FP620 

Students at Central Noble Junior/ Senior High School participated in a CANstruction project led by educator, Abbey Mault.  CANstruction is both a STEM and service-learning project.  With the help of a generatonOn Indiana mini grant, the students worked for 6 months raising money for the Canstruction project. With the money raised, they were able to purchase 14,756 cans of food. The CANstruction took place at the Glenbrook Mall in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they built a structure with the purchased canned goods. All of the canned goods were then donated to the Noble County food pantries to help feed the hungry in the community.

Students are HUNGRY TO HELP others.  Help them find their place and civic responsibility through service-learning utilizing generationOn and Learning to Give!

We encourage all Indiana educators and schools to register on www.generationOn.org so you are connected to our Indiana program and create an account on Learning to Give where there are over 1700+ K-12 FREE Philanthropy lessons.  For more information, contact Joan Belschwender, Director generationOn Indiana at generationOn@iasp.org.   Contact Beth Smith, Educational Consultant, for free professional development at bethsmithgenonin@iasp.org .  See our generationOn Indiana page on the IASP website:  www.iasp.org/affiliates/genon/ and on the IMLEA website:  www.imlea.org .