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Changing Food Supply: Lesson Two of the Climate Change Curriculum
Environmental Justice, Climate Justice, Climate Change


Droughts are the leading cause of food shortages in the world, with other natural disasters such as flooding and storms not far behind. We grow enough food to feed all 7 billion people on our planet, yet approximately one in eight people are hungry every day. In this unit we will examine the ties between climate change and food are and what participants can do to reduce hunger. The World Food Programme’s website offers helpful background on hunger causes and climate change.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand what environmental factors cause food shortages and how they are related to climate change
  • Look into what organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP) are doing to fight hunger
  • Understand what participants can do about climate change’s effects on food shortages

Settle In/ Chalice Lighting

(5 minutes)

Use the words below or one you find yourself.

We light this Unitarian Universalist chalice
with open minds, helping hands, and loving hearts.


(5-10 minutes)

Go around in a circle or have participants randomly share how their week has been. Remind them to be respectful of whatever each person has to share and to keep their thoughts brief. It is important to make a space where everyone feels safe and comfortable and to respect where each person is coming from that day. If time allows, go around twice; once for news and once for joys and sorrows. It is important that the leaders participate in the check-in to build a relationship with the participants.


Share a personal account of the damage climate change has already caused on food in the U.S. and around the world. Read a story from the World Wide Fund for Nature.


Case Study

(10-15 minutes)


There are lots of international organizations working to help communities affected by climate change leading to food shortages. The World Food Program through the UN is one of the largest organizations that works on relief from food shortage disasters and long term prevention and recovery. This activity focuses on a success story from the WFP’s programs in Ethiopia. A town’s farmland was severely degraded and they did not have enough water to grow crops. The WFP paid people with food to rebuild a canal to provide water to their area and create a sustainable food system.


  • Computer (optional)
  • Projector (optional)


An area where all the participants can view the computer or projector and a large blank wall.


  1. If you have a computer with or without a projector you can show the video about the Ethiopian woman who was helped by the WFP’s project that is connected to this article: “Ethiopian Project Prevents Hunger By Managing Land.” If not, feel free to print or summarize the article with your class.
  2. Once they understand the story have a discussion about what they think of the WFP’s tactics. How does this project benefit the community beyond simply providing food? What does the video mean by a sustainable solution? Do you think this is sustainable?

Causes of Food Shortages

(15-25 minutes)


Food shortages are caused by a wide variety of things, and it is often the combination of factors that does the most damage. In this activity participants will understand what the leading causes of hunger are and their effects.


  • Butcher paper
  • Markers
  • Tables or uncarpeted ground


Inside or outside.


  1. Break the participants up into groups of three or four and give each group a piece of butcher paper and marker.
  2. Have each group brainstorm a list of what they think causes or worsens the food shortage problem. Have them think about what they saw in the video to get started.
  3. Have them come back to the larger group and share their ideas. If the orders or causes are different they can justify why they put what where. Then share the list in appendix 1 (you can make it a handout) and have participants discuss why they think certain causes create more damage than others. Be sure to take time to explain what exactly each cause does to the hunger problem.

Help End the Hunger

(5-20 minutes)


It is difficult for participants to contribute to long term solutions like building a canal when they live across the world from areas where the most acute hunger is present without simply giving money. However, the WFP has set up Freerice, a site that donates ten grains of rice every time you get a question right.


  • Computer with internet access
  • Projector (optional)
  • Whiteboard or butcher paper


An area where all the participants can view the computer or projector and a large blank wall.


  1. Go to Freerice to break your participants up into groups of three to five and have them create team names. Go to subjects and pick world hunger.
  2. Play jeopardy style by having one team try to answer. If in a reasonable amount of time they cannot agree on an answer or answer incorrectly, the next team can try. If they do answer correctly, they can answer one more question. However, even if that answer is also correct, move on to the next team. One person should keep score on the whiteboard or butcher paper with one point for each correct answer.
  3. You can make an account for your class by signing up in the upper left hand corner.Give the participants the password, and if possible, email it out to the parents with an explanation or send a handout home with the participants. Remind participants that they are not required to play at home if their parent’s don’t feel comfortable or they don’t want to. However, if they are interested you can set a goal for how many grains of rice your group will raise by the next time you meet.

NOTE: If you do not have access to a computer in the classroom, but participants have them at home, you can still tell them about the site and make a class group.


(10-15 minutes)

Have each student share what they plan to do for their DOT project. If you have new members of the class, explain the project to them and ask them to pick an action to take. Remind the participants to start this week and that they will be sharing their progress next week.


Have one student extinguish the chalice while everyone reads the closing words.

We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth,
the warmth of community,
or the fire of commitment.
These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

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