By Orna Herr, Communications Officer (Education) at the British Science Association 


Did you know that although enough food is produced globally to feed the world’s population, still 828 million people are hungry today, including a growing number of children in the UK? 

We all know that some topics are easier to teach than others. But that doesn’t mean that we need to shy away from the big, difficult subjects.  

With World Hunger Day coming up on Sunday 28 May, now is a good time to raise the issues of food poverty and the global hunger crisis in ways that help young people both understand the issues, but also contribute to developing solutions too.  

From children arriving at school hungry and the increasing demand on food banks here in the UK, to the complex causes of global hunger, we have information, activities and free resources to support your classroom discussions. 

Some causes of global hunger   

Climate crisis = hunger crisis 

The climate crisis is a leading cause of hunger globally, second only to conflict. A huge 80% of people suffering from hunger live in areas prone to climate extremes. 

Extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves and wildfires have been becoming exponentially more frequent over the last 20 years. The resulting challenges for farming and food supply chains are having a devastating effect on local food production, availability and accessibility. 

Africa is being hit particularly hard. Research shows:  

  • Average temperatures are rising faster there than in other parts of the world 
  • 95% of farmers rely on rainfall for irrigation, so irregular rainy seasons can have a catastrophic effect 
  • A fifth of the population of Africa – 287 million people – is malnourished 

Good food gone to waste 

Meanwhile, over a third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted each year. 

In the UK, we throw away around 9.5 million tonnes of food per year. When we waste food, we waste all the precious resources used to produce it – the water, land, energy and human manpower.  

Food waste also creates emissions which worsen the climate crisis, in turn driving global hunger; it is a vicious cycle

See our blog on food waste to see how we recommend talking to young people about the issue. 

In the classroom 

Starting a conversation 

As a starting point, you can use the information from this blog post to open some debate in your classroom or include in an assembly: 

  • What do your students think the leading causes of hunger are? What could be done about it? Encourage them to consider who has the power to make changes to the current situation.  
  • Maybe your pupils could write a letter to an MP or plan a fundraising event for a relevant charity. 
  • You might also want to encourage them to consider food waste at home and at school. How could we help our community to minimise food waste? They could make posters for the dining hall, work together with their families to make a school recipe book, plan menus using leftovers or start a compost bin. 

Getting practical 

We also have plenty of free resources for educators to help children and young people of all ages explore the topics of food waste and the global hunger crisis.  

For early years  

In the Early Years activity pack for this year’s British Science Week, you’ll find ‘See and eat vegetables’ (page 16) – an activity which teaches children about the farm-to-fork journey of vegetables. 

This is a fantastic activity for fostering an understanding in even the youngest children about where the food they eat comes from and all the work and energy that goes into food production. This can help discourage waste and open a conversation about nutrition. 

For primary 

We also have some great resources you can explore in the classroom. For many years, we partnered with Practical Action to develop resources linked our CREST Award scheme, like ‘Yummy Yoghurt Makers’ (page 200), which touch on topics relating to global food security, climate and hunger.  

For secondary 

Many Practical Action resources, like the ‘Squashed tomato challenge’ and the ‘Floating garden challenge’, are excellent resources to get KS3 students thinking about the challenges of growing and transporting crops. They also qualify students to get a CREST Discovery Award too! 

If your students are interested in the relationship between STEM* and politics, check out the brilliant 'Making manifestos’ (page 19) activity, created in partnership with Simple Politics, from our British Science Week 2023 Secondary activity pack. The activity requires just pens and paper and asks students to form their own political party. 

  • In the context of World Hunger Day, challenge your students to consider how their party might respond to the global hunger crisis. 
  • What would their party stand for? What stance would they take on STEM policies? 
  • How could they connect with people and communicate their ideas effectively? 

This activity is designed to take up to an hour, but if students are inspired, they could begin a self-directed CREST Award. 

Encouraging secondary students to see how STEM and politics are intertwined is essential for building a future political class which is eco-conscious and proactive. 

What’s more, by demonstrating how pupils can apply their STEM knowledge and understanding to real-world problems – like the global hunger crisis – you are preparing them to draw on these skills when they join the workforce. 

Next steps towards a CREST Award 

Take a look at our CREST Awards resource library, where you’ll find activities and projects for children and young people aged 5-19, including our question generator 

The question generator booklet walks students through the process of designing their own research project, which would fulfil the criteria for a CREST Award – an assessed, student-led piece of work focused on a STEM topic. It supports students to identify a topic they’re passionate about and explore it in depth.  

This could provide an opportunity for students to explore the STEM issues around world hunger and research policies that could make the best use of scientific innovation.

Inspiring tomorrow’s scientists 

Science does not exist in a bubble; it is deeply connected to almost every global issue. To make the world a fairer, safer place we need young people to feel that science is for them, and that they can truly make a difference.  

You might also be interested in some of our other blogs on this topic: 

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*STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and maths