2008 Race Against Hunger Takes Off In Chicago

Middle school students eager to be a part of the solution to end hunger

I’m still energized from my recent trip to Chicago to launch the pilot Race Against Hunger. With the help of the nearly 500 middle school students who participated, the Race has gotten off to a great start.

While I am only a few years out of college, it has been a while since I’ve been in middle school, and the current students are of a different generation. I was nervous that my presentation would be too complicated, too basic, too long, too short…worst of all, I was anxious that the presentation would be boring. At the very least, I wanted the students to come away not feeling as though they just wasted a portion of their day.

What actually happened was quite different. Not once did I feel the presentation was mundane or that the students were disinterested. Sure, some students were more enthusiastic than others, but almost all of the nearly 500 participants were engaged, interested, and attentive. I was highly impressed by the understanding of current events and global communities. The students ability to pinpoint specific countries and regions where hunger exists (answers included Haiti and HIV/AIDS communities) complimented their recognition that “hunger exists everywhere just at different levels.” When asked what factors contribute to hunger, one student even answered, “Government subsidies for corn production to make ethanol.” I was stunned. Was I this knowledgeable at their age? Doubtful.

Aside from the working knowledge of global hunger, students were eager to learn more. They were captivated by pictures of beneficiaries, statistics about water and malnutrition, and the video of Action Against Hunger’s program in Burundi. Here was a group of kids who not only knew the basics about our global community, but who were also interested in learning how they, as individuals, could be of assistance. Many of the teachers reported that students returned to classrooms eager to “fill out the participation form” and “bursting with good ideas.” I even had the chance to be at the starting line of one of the Races as 24 students, 2 teachers, and a group of parent chaperones took off in their quest to help make hunger history.

Needless to say, I am extremely excited to hear about how the final stages of the Race Against Hunger turn out for each school. I see this pilot group as a positive indication of the potential for the Race Against Hunger, and I am thrilled to be able to be a part of such a great event. Thank you to all who have participated so far!!