Hunger is an issue that we can’t always see. Hunger and its effects can be hidden. We were looking for a great way to make a positive impact in your community and have fun with your youth at the same time. Our youth leadership team decided a hunger hunt was just the thing. Imagine a scavenger hunt and service project combined. Youth were put on teams, given a holiday food need list, and asked to make as many complete bags as they could in an hour. Each complete bag is meant to supply 1 holiday meal for a family of 4. The holidays are a time in which many families need assistance. Helping others and having fun is a win-win! This event lends nicely to having someone from the community come and share about hunger in the community. You might be able to get a school district person to speak on the percentage of schools that have free and reduced lunches. Maybe you have someone from the food pantry talk about the number of families that request assistance during the holidays.
Here is what we did:
- Contacted the local food pantry or food bank and asked for their holiday food need list.
- Starting 2 weeks out, we give students an M&M mini container (full) and let them take it home and eat the candy. Then we asked/encouraged them to fill it with quarters (about $10) and bring it back with them on the night of the hunger hunt. We recruited adult drivers.
- The night of the event we divided into teams of 4-6 (with adult drivers). While they were eating a quick supper, each team was given local weekly grocery fliers and the holiday shopping list, to plan while they were eating.
- We gave them 1 hour to head out into the community to make as many full bags of groceries as possible. They were only allowed to use the cash they had on them, no debit/credit cards. They were allowed to ask for donations, provided that they explain what they are doing, and who benefits from it.
- As teams returned, we piled the completed bags on a table and had all the groups stand together for a photo and announce the total number of complete bags. The team that filled the most bags was the “winner.” We took Sonic drink orders for the winners and had it ready for them the next Sunday (great way to increase return visitors).
- The next day we loaded all the completed bags and extra items, and donated them to the food pantry!
Want to add a twist to the game? You can make it more like a scavenger hunt, where students have to go door to door and ask for items in the bag. You might need to give each team a script with what to say to make this a bit easier.