When Hanna Helmersen was a 6th grader in Norway, she learned about hunger and suffering firsthand. It was 1944, and Norway was under Nazi German occupation during World War II. Food shortages were aplenty for Norwegians. Normal supplies were disrupted by the war, and occupation forces took what they wanted.
It was even worse for Russian prisoners of war, who were not far from Hanna's home near Narvik. In her book, "War and Innocence," she describes these prisoners as hungry and ragged. Hanna and her classmates had an idea. They asked their teacher to get permission from a German guard so they could give the Russian prisoners some food. It worked, and the students gave the famished prisoners their soup. What precious little they had, they gave.
Hanna's class learned valuable lessons about hunger and how to take action against it. Today, students can also follow their example in many ways. One of the best tools is Free Rice. With this game you can practice vocabulary, math and many other subjects. And in doing so, you are achieving the same result as Hanna and her class, giving food to those who need it.
When you play Free Rice, each correct answer leads to a donation of rice to the World Food Programme. The donation is paid for through advertising on the site, so companies are also encouraged to visit Free Rice and discuss sponsorship.
Earlier this month, College of Mount St Joseph education students gave a thumbs up to Free Rice and its learning and hunger fighting tools. It offers a way teachers can integrate social action and responsibility into their lesson plans.
There are other ways too. For instance, Social Studies curriculum spends a good amount of time covering both world wars. But to get the complete story of these wars, you have to examine the massive hunger crisis that accompanied each one. In the Mount St. Joseph class, I showed a film of George Marshall discussing hunger in Europe after the war. His famous Marshall Plan, which shaped the whole post-war world, rested on a foundation of food.