Activities and Curricula for UN Sunday Religious Education

Part of UN Sunday


Draw a Community Food Map!

Activity created by Rev. Stevie Carmody

Materials needed

  • Large blank sheet of paper
  • Colored pencils/markers
  • A computer connected to the internet/Google maps


  1. Open Google Maps!
  2. Draw the major roads and highways that define your neighborhood or town
  3. Search “grocery” and mark “G” on your map where grocery stores are located
  4. Search “convenience store” and mark with “C”
  5. Search “food distribution” and mark with “D”
  6. Search “restaurant” and mark with “R”
  7. Add other food production and access sites you know about! (like farmers markets)

Discuss your community food maps

  • What do you notice about where different types of places are located?
  • Have you gone to some of the places? Which ones? How do you get there (car, on your own steam (walk or ride), bus)?
  • Talk about what food you might get to eat at the different places. Which places sell food that is already prepared? Which ones have ingredients--different foods you can prepare at home the way you like? Which places do you think have healthy food? Which ones are less likely to have healthy options?

Discussion About Food Justice

Watch the “Trying to Eat Healthy in a Food Desert” video (YouTube) together as a class, then gather round for discussion.

Discussion Questions for Grades K-3

  • Where does your family buy food for groceries or when you go out to eat?
    • Do they take a car? A bus?
  • How do we know if food is healthy?
  • What are your favorite healthy foods?
  • Some people, like friends, family and neighbors of the people from the video can rarely, if ever, have some of the foods you mentioned. Is that fair?
  • How could it be more fair so everyone who wants healthy food can get it?

Discussion Questions for Grades 4-7

  • Where does your family buy food for groceries or go out to eat?
    • Do you take a car?
    • About how long does grocery shopping take?
  • Why is it important to eat healthy foods? What are some healthy foods that you like?
  • What are some of the barriers to accessing healthy foods that you see in the video?
    • Why do these barriers exist?
    • Are these barriers present in your neighborhood?
  • What solutions do we see in the video? What would be necessary to remove the barriers completely?
Small Bonus Activity

Think about a healthy meal that you love to eat. Imagine the process for eating this meal at home (first get the ingredients: time, distance, availability; then cooking time), compared with getting something similar at a fast food place (time, distance, can you get the meal you want).

Discussion Questions for Grades 8 and Up

  • The video mentions structural racism, red lining, gentrification, and food apartheid. What do these terms mean? (See definitions below. Before offering the definitions, you might ask the class what they think the terms mean based on how they’re used in the video.) Had you heard these terms before? How do each of these terms relate to one another?
    • How do they show up in the foods available in the East New York neighborhood featured in the video?
    • How are they present in your neighborhoods and in the way you get food to eat?
  • How do you connect on a personal and cultural level to the foods you eat, and the ingredients used? What food choices that you make matter to you as a person? As a person connected to a particular culture? Why?
  • Under food apartheid, communities don’t have food sovereignty, which La Via Campesina defines as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” Why does food sovereignty matter?
Definitions for the Facilitator to Use

Structural Racism: The ways in which structures exist in society to generate disparities based on race or ethnicity, without necessarily involving racial discrimination perpetrated by individuals. When institutions, policies, and cultural norms are created by those steeped in white supremacist culture, they (even if unintentionally) perpetuate inequalities and discriminatory practices, resulting in structural racism. Structural racism manifests as political and social disadvantages in society such as higher poverty rates and health risks for people of color.

Redlining: A discriminatory practice in which residents of certain areas are denied services (especially financial services like banking services, loans, insurance, etc.) based on their race or ethnicity. This was especially practiced in the U.S. and Canada throughout the 20th century: City authorities would draw “red lines” around neighborhoods where people of color lived, marking them as areas for banks and other businesses to avoid funding or investing in, thus preventing those communities from thriving.

Gentrification: A process where wealthy people move into a poor urban area, causing the character of the neighborhood to change with new (expensive) businesses and increased housing costs, while displacing current inhabitants who can no longer afford to live there or no longer feel comfortable there. Often this involves changes in the quality of education and/or racial make-up of residents too, with BIPOC residents displaced from an area that’s been historically disinvested in, as white residents move in and attract new investments.

Food Apartheid: Describes a system in which, due to historic and current policies of systemic racism and oppression, neighborhoods disproportionately inhabited by people of color do not have access to nutritious, healthy food that is affordable and culturally appropriate.

  • A term you may have heard that misses the mark: Food Desert. This term is inaccurate, because often communities under food apartheid do have food, but what is affordable and most accessible is food that’s heavily processed and low in nutrients such as from convenience stores and fast food. The term “food desert” also obscures the root causes of lack of access to healthy foods in these communities by implying that these areas are naturally occurring rather than the result of systems of oppression.
  • Learn more about food apartheid: Food Apartheid: Racialized Access to Healthy Affordable Food (an Expert Blog from the NRDC, written by Nina Sevilla)

Lesson Plans From Tapestry of Faith

The following lesson plans from the Tapestry of Faith program are related to climate and food justice.

For Grades 2-3: “Justice for All” from the Moral Tales program. This lesson helps children to understand injustice and inequality and the importance of working for justice.

Especially Activity 4: Story Integration – Barking Dog Game after reading the Dog and the Heartless King story itself.

The story can be used as a Time for All Ages story, with children and/or in multi-age worship. When using this activity, incorporate situations that have to do with climate and food justice. Some examples:

  • The island nation of Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bass) emits less than half a ton of carbon dioxide annually per resident. Canada emits more than 18 and a half tons of carbon dioxide annually per resident. (Emphasize that carbon dioxide causes climate change.) Due to rising sea levels caused by climate change, it is expected that in less than 100 years, Kiribati will be largely underwater.
  • Mori’s family drives their car 5 minutes to get groceries. Kay’s family has to walk 20 minutes to catch a bus, and ride for 20 more minutes, to get to the closest grocery store they can afford.
  • Finn’s ancestors lived on the land right next to where Finn’s house is now, and they grew all sorts of delicious fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to feed themselves and their neighbors. Now, the land is owned by a company that grows fields and fields of just corn. Finn isn’t even allowed to eat the corn because the company sells it to feed animals in a different state.

For Grades 4-5: “The Power of Growth” from the Sing to Power program. This lesson plan demonstrates that food comes from the earth and encourages intentional choices about what to eat, including strategies for ethical eating.

Especially Activity 3: Tracking the Journey of Food