Preventing World Hunger Starts at Home

Three senior students in Dr. Kinser’s World Hunger class looked for ways to educate their peers about hunger issues, and decided that, with the benefit of having a Pre-K - Grade 12 student body at Sewickley Academy, they would start with some of their youngest schoolmates, the Kindergarten.
Sofia Bencic, Jaeden Dorsett, and Lailani Mbandi learned that in addition to the students in SA’s Early Childhood receiving lunches as part of their programming this year, they had begun composting. These seniors chose to observe the younger students' eating habits/practices and then work with them regarding preventing food waste, selecting healthier options, and trying new foods through age-appropriate activities.

Recently, Sofia, Jaeden, and Lailani introduced their young friends to a variety of fruits, some of which they expected most students had not tried before. Their taste-testers enthusiastically embraced their assignment. 

The Kindergarten students were served five fruits: dragonfruit, kiwi, grapefruit, pomelo, and pineapple. Sofia, Jaeden, and Lailani took turns explaining each fruit’s origin, primary regions of growth, and showed photos of the fruits before being sliced and served. Using words like squishy, crunchy, sweet, and sour, the kindergarten class described each fruit and discussed their favorites and what they’d be willing to eat again. The seniors wonderfully led the gregarious group through the exercise, and the taste-testers politely placed any fruits they didn’t care for in a bowl in the center of each table. All discarded fruits were added to the Lower School’s compost bin. 

The World Hunger class is part of Sewickley Academy’s Global Studies program in which Senior School students may complete additional requirements in order to graduate with a Global Studies certificate in addition to their diploma. In the class, students examine hunger as a global issue and study food insecurity as well as climate change and how it impacts our food sources. Modern molecular biology techniques and  primary research analysis are incorporated into this advanced course. 

Dr. Kinser permits the students taking World Hunger to lead the direction of discussions, and it was through this practice that Sofia, Jaeden, and Lailani began to consider the different experiences their fellow SA students have had with food, as well as the impact of food waste both nationally and internationally. 

In addition to working with the Kindergarten class, these seniors researched and presented on hunger in the Pittsburgh region. They worked together to contact businesses throughout the area to find out what they do with extra food, and they followed up with food banks to verify that these food donations are received. Additionally, Sofia, Jaeden, and Lailani investigated existing technology for reducing food waste including apps like NoWaste and Flashfood. One partner with Flashfood is the Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle grocery chain, and, through their research, the students discovered that the store in nearby Leetsdale offers food nearing its best-by date at up to 50% off regular prices. This practice helps to feed families in need, keeps food waste out of landfills, and reduces carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.