About the event
With events held in over 150 countries, World Food Day is one of the most celebrated days in the UN calendar. Conceived in 1979, the day commemorates the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945. It aims to heighten public awareness of world food problems and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The day is celebrated by large organisations such as the World Health Organisation, and regional governments, right down to local community groups.
How to approach it
Food is such a crucial part of our lives and our food systems have such a profound effect on the way in which our societies are structured. Despite this, modern life tends to isolate us from the wider social connections of our food and so it's crucial educators help students to think through these wider social impacts. One way to make students aware of these interconnections is to focus on one specific kind of food and trace it from its origins all the way to our plate. Help students to think through where an item of food has been made, who has processed it, transported it and sold it before it got to us. Guide them through this process by giving them ideas about every stage- it doesn’t have to be exact. Simply show that many different environments, people and organisations combine to produce one meal. A great resource for this is the Map Your Meal toolkit which is packed with tons of activities to get students thinking about the social and environmental impact of food systems.
After this you can begin to show that developing a kinder more sustainable society is interlinked with developing a kinder more sustainable food system - we cannot do one without the other. To explore this, begin to draw connections between the positive/negative aspects of society and the positive/negative aspects of food systems. For example, an unequal society will usually mean hunger is more common and food systems enrich an elite whilst requiring lots of work from the poor. A more sustainable society will produce food in a way that doesn’t deplete the landscape, doesn’t require lots of carbon intensive transport and is diverse enough to avoid mass crop failures. To reinforce these ideas you could ask students to complete an imaginative exercise through creative writing, drama or drawing. Ask them to imagine a ‘nasty society’ with the worst possible food system and then a happy society with the best food system imaginable. Get students to compare their ideas and see what they have in common.
It's easy to forget that the food we eat every day doesn't just appear on our plates - it is grown, harvested, produced and prepared by a long line of people. Can you count how many people were involved in the last meal you ate - all the way from the people who grew it to the people who prepared it?