Food for People

The Food Bank for Humboldt County
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Hunger 101

Hunger 101 is a unique learning experience in which participants are asked to “take on” the life circumstances of someone in Humboldt County who may be hungry. The focus of this hour-long exercise is to help participants understand the complex economic and social circumstances that lead to and perpetuate hunger. This is a compassion and empathy-building activity that helps participants understand how poverty creates tough choices for people in need. It fuels participants’ motivation in the fight against hunger and provides suggestions for how to take action.

This activity can be shortened to fit within a staff lunch hour or a class period for students. It also can be extended, if a certain focus area is identified, such as CalFresh (SNAP) information, in order to fulfill the needs of the group.

Real scenarios taken from anonymous local residents' circumstances are used in order to give an accurate depiction of hunger in Humboldt County. The scenario includes a family profile narrative, monthly budget sheet, daily calorie requirements and bank account daily allotment. Each family team has to work out how it will achieve the family’s food (calorie) needs for the day, given what money is left after paying for living expenses such as rent, utilities, medical and transportation costs. View a sample family profile narrative here, and view that family's sample monthly budget here.

In most cases, participants find it difficult to juggle their family’s unique circumstances and must access the nutrition assistance services available in the activity, such as the Food Stamp Office, Saint Vincent’s free lunch, food bank commodity boxes, and free school lunch.  At the end of the day, most families will not have enough money to buy nutritious food at the grocery store to meet their daily calorie needs.  It becomes clear that it is quite a lot of work to achieve a family’s nutrition needs on very little income.

After running the scenario, time is set aside for a facilitated debriefing in order to reflect on the difficulties experienced and nutrition choices made during the activity.  This includes a discussion about the root causes of hunger, the link between poverty and nutrition, and and how hunger and poverty affect our community.

Food for People’s Community Education and Outreach Program extends the opportunity for interested groups to join in this interesting and eye-opening experience, free of charge. Groups that have participated in the past include: college classes, educators, health professionals, non-profits, pantry volunteers, Americorps groups, Girl Scouts, elementary and high school students, and beyond.

If interested, please contact our Community Education & Outreach Coordinator at (707) 445-3166 x308 or email hmchugh@foodforpeople.org