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GIFT Proposal

Samantha Shepherd
James Madison University
The Cost of Hunger
The Cost of Hunger
When bringing up the topics of power and privilege in the basic speech course, the
classroom falls silent. These are topics that first- year students feel uncomfortable talking about.
As an instructor, it is important to lean into that discomfort and not shy away from it. This
activity is designed to help students in the basic course have a productive conversation about
power and privilege and how we see that play out in our own culture, through food. In this
activity, students will work in groups to figure out how they will eat for a day based on what
class they are randomly assigned. After they figure out how they will spend their allotted money,
then will discuss with the class what they have eaten that day, and observations. This activity
creates a space in the classroom for students to gain a perspective about how food plays a role in
power, as well as who has power and who does not.

1. Students will gain a better understanding of how power and privilege play out
in culture and communication through this activity
objectives: 2. Students will be able to problem solve in groups
The rationale for doing this activity is for students to gain a different perspective
about culture and hunger than their own. This activity is a way for students to
Rationale: communicate about power, culture without it becoming face- threatening. Often
times when having these conversations about power and culture, students feel
attacked in regard to their own privilege. This activity is a way to start a productive
conversation about how power and privilege play out in food. This activity is also a
way for students to work in groups to communicate.
Required Items:
 Note cards for the class, each split up based on the number of poverty in the
Setup: Prior to class, spilt up the class based on the numbers of poverty in the U.S.
I. 29% of people in the Lower Class
II. 21% of people in the Upper Class
III. 59% of people in the Middle Class
Carry out:
a. Students get a card at the beginning of class that tells them what class they are
in, (i.e. lower, middle, or upper class)
b. Students are told to sit in their group based on the color of their card
c. The cards have been randomly given out and are based on the numbers of
poverty in the U.S.
d. Then after the students get in their groups (i.e. lower, middle, or upper class)
e. They are told that this simulation is created so they can gain a better
understanding of how power and privilege play out in culture and
f. The students are then given a task: to feed themselves based on the dollar
amount they are given
I. Upper- $22
II. Middle- $10
III. Lower -$4
g. The students work together for 10 minutes to figure out what they will eat for
the day on this money
h. Students share with the class how they spent their money for the day and what
they ate

1) How does power play a role in this activity?
2) What challenges did you find based on your assigned role?
3) How was your communication with your group effected based on this role?
4) How does feeding one’s self effect one’s daily activities?
5) How does this make you reassess your own power and privilege?

Appraisal of Some limitations of the activity are the number of people in class. If there are missing
students, sometimes the percent of people to represent each class is off. Due to the
the activity- fact that this activity is designed to be not face-threatening, it can limit deeper
conversation of power and the conversation can be a little surface level.
a. NPR-
References or
suggested way/2015/12/09/459087477/the-tipping-point-most-americans-
reading no-longer-are-middle-class
b. Chapter 3 of in the company of others: An introduction to
communication, 5th edition