Investigating Food Security

These teaching suggestions are designed to support interdisciplinary exploration of the issue of food security.

More about food security in the world:

More about food security in the United States:


Science: Investigate the role of soil fertility in improving food security using the video The Growing Challenge in Senegal (link above). Learn from the experiences of two Peace Corps Volunteers who worked with Senegalese farmers to use local soil knowledge to improve agricultural productivity. After completing the WebQuest, try using a soil testing kit to determine the nutrient content in soil samples from your community.

Math: Search the UN's website for their estimated and projected world population and estimated and projected world population by area (region). What information can you discern from these data and projections? Compare the data with the FAO map of Prevalence of Undernourishment in the Total Population . Given the projected trends and the current prevalence of undernourishment, in which regions do you predict the greatest food security challenges in the coming decades? How would a higher or lower rate of population growth change your predictions?

Service Learning : Analyze food security issues in your state using the USDA's interactive Food Environment Atlas. After identifying key needs in your area, develop a strategy for addressing the need through service.

Social Studies: Explore the ways your community is connected with other parts of the world through food. Over the course of a week, keep a record of the foods you eat that are imported from other places. Create a map illustrating the world regions on which your diet depends. Research the major food products that are exported from your state and from the U.S. Who purchases these products? How do you think global political and economic relationships influence food security for you and for the world?

Language Arts: Introduce the concept of aquaculture , or fish farming, as an approach to improving community food security. Then read "Ilunga's Harvest" and "I Had a Hero" by Mike Tidwell (see links above), who served as an agricultural extension Peace Corps Volunteer in the Congo. Use sections of the accompanying lesson plans to prompt discussion. Reflecting on the stories, how do you think the themes of generosity, justice, individualism, and community connect with the issue of food security?

Geography: Introduce the concept of desertification and view the USDA's Global Desertification Vulnerability Map . Compare the map with the FAO map of Prevalence of Undernourishment in the Total Population . How do you think climate, desertification, and food security are related? Explore case studies from around the world to see how communities are addressing desertification challenges.

Foreign Language (Spanish): Pre-read the story "Cuando el Éxito Sabe a Miel" (see link above) by Kristina Owens, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia. Paraphrase the meanings of each paragraph with a partner, and mark any phrases or vocabulary that are unfamiliar to you. How do you think improving the farmers' yield could relate to improvements in food access, food availability

Frameworks and standards

Enduring understandings

  • Understanding current trends in food security can help us make decisions for the future
  • Global and community-based cooperation is necessary for improving food security
  • Food security is a complex global issue influenced by political, environmental, and social factors

Essential questions

  • How does food security impact people's lives?
  • What can we do to improve food security in our community, our country, and our world?
  • What is food security?


National Science Education Standards

  • Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    • Science and technology in society

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

  • Statistics and Probability
    • Investigate patterns of association in bivariate data

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

  • Thematic Strand VII: Production, Distribution, and Consumption
    • Gather and analyze data on economic issues.
  • Thematic Strand IX: Global Connections
    • Explore the causes, consequences and possible solutions related to global issues.

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

  • Reading: Literature
    • Key Ideas and Details: Cite textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

U.S. National Geography Standards

  • Essential Element V: Environment and Society
    • Changes in meanings, use, distribution, and importance of resources

National Standards for Foreign Language Learning

  • Communication
    • Standard 1.2:  Understand and interpret written and spoken language  

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