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World Food Day 2020 Activities and Ideas

World Food Day 2020 Activities and Ideas

World Food Day is celebrated on 16th October every year. The date commemorates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) by the United Nations (UN) in 1945.

This year (2020) is particularly significant as it is the 75th year of the event, occurring at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic threatens food security in many parts of the world.

Every year, World Food Day has a theme. For 2020, the theme is Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. It aims to raise awareness of (and action for) areas and communities whose access to food has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It also focuses on Food Heroes who work to produce healthy and sustainable food:

VIDEO: The UN's World Food Day 2020 focuses on #FoodHeroes.

World Food Day Themes - past and present

  • 2020: Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.
  • 2019: Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A # ZeroHunger World
  • 2018: Our Actions Are Our Future, Ending World Hunger by 2030 is Possible
  • 2017: Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.
  • 2016: Climate change: "Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too
  • 2015: Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty

Find out what each year's theme was, all the way back to 1981 (Wikipedia).

5 ways to celebrate World Food Day 2020 in school

1. Discover fascinating food facts

Use books and the internet to collect fascinating facts about where food is grown, how far it travels 'from farm to fork', and how much we consume. You could use the information children gather to form a class display or part of a presentation in assembly. To get you started, here are some facts about food scarcity and sustainability:

World Food Day Facts

  • Eight hundred million people around the world suffer from hunger.
  • In parts of the world where hunger is a big issue, life expectancy is shorter, infant mortality is higher, and productivity is lower.
  • Around the same number of people around the world suffer from obesity due to unhealthy diets.
  • Obesity kills more people than hunger.
  • Inefficient, unsustainable food systems harm ecosystems and contribute to global warming. Changing the way we produce food is key to tackling climate change.
  • As the climate changes, we will have to change the way we produce food: yields will decrease, and new food sources will have to be found.
  • In developed countries, tackling obesity would save hundreds of billions of pounds in healthcare costs.
  • In countries where hunger is an issue, eliminating hunger would dramatically increase productivity and national wealth.
  • The first World Food Day was celebrated in 1979. Today, it is officially recognised and honoured with official events in more than 150 countries.
  • Every year, World Food Day has a new theme. This year (2020), the theme is Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.

2. Make it meaningful.

When talking about World Food Day with your class, make it meaningful by providing context. Food security and food poverty are significant issues in the country they live in, and likely in their local community, too. It's a good time to talk about food banks, free school meals and the importance of nourishing food for health, happiness and even for effective learning. Here is some handy information for your class discussion:

What is 'food security'?

Food security means being able to have adequate supplies of food to live healthily. To have food security:

  • People must have enough money to buy food
  • Food must be affordably-priced
  • There must be reliable supply chains for food
  • There must be enough reserves of food, or reliable enough supply chains for a variety of foods, to ensure that access to food is not interrupted
  • The food available must be nutritious, so those who consume it can lead active, healthy lives
bell peppers being sorted on a conveyor belt by workers wearing rubber gloves
For people to have food security, adequate supplies of nutritious food must always be readily available. Food supply chains must be reliable and uninterrupted.

What are 'sustainable food systems'?

Sustainable food systems are balanced. Effective, sustainable food systems affordably provide an adequate amount of food to meet demand while also supporting the ecosystems they rely upon for the production of food.

A good example of a more sustainable food system is the new greenhouse system in Norfolk and Suffolk, set to produce 10 per cent of UK tomatoes. The greenhouses will be heated by warm water pumped from nearby water treatment plants (the heating of the water is a consequence of the water treatment process). This method produces far lower carbon emissions than traditional growing methods. It also reduces food miles and establishes a more reliable supply of food in the local area.

freshly-caught fish being weighed in a plastic box on a set of weighing scales
Sustainable food systems and circular economies are vital for protecting the ecosystems which produce our food. Sustainable fishing strategies include fishing quotas and using biodegradable nets.

3. Link it to your community

Does your school have strong links to community groups or religious organisations already? Church of England schools have a long-standing tradition of celebrating harvest festival by collecting store cupboard food items for the elderly and vulnerable in their community. This year, Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival, is celebrated 2nd-9th October. Find out what—if anything—your school already does at this time of year, and link it to learning about food security in other parts of the world.

If there's not much happening at your school, why not arrange to do something to help those less-well off in your community? Find out where your nearest food bank is. Many will list the items they are most in need of each week on their website. Send a list home with children in your class, asking if anyone can donate any of the items on it. You could even arrange for a food bank coordinator/volunteer to come and talk to your class about it.

4. Make healthy, nutritious food with your class.

World Food Day has excellent links to the primary curriculum. Most schools teach cooking and nutrition in some form, so it's ideal if you can coincide your cookery lessons with World Food Day. As well as teaching cooking skills and food hygiene, teach 'around' the recipe you're learning, for example, you might try to find out about the food journey of one or more of the ingredients.

TEACHERS: Here at PlanBee, we believe that good teaching and learning about food preparation is vital for children's wellbeing. For that reason, we've created Design & Technology: Cookery and Nutrition schemes of work with comprehensive coverage of primary National Curriculum objectives. They're packed with the resources you need to teach children how to cook – even if you're a disaster in the kitchen, yourself!

5. Make curriculum links to World Food Day

World Food Day is an excellent national day for learning about in schools because it has good links to many areas of the primary National Curriculum. Here are some activity ideas to try with your class:


The life processes of animals, including humans

Take a look at the human digestive system and the functions of organs such as the stomach, liver, gall bladder and intestines.

Ecosystems and biodiversity

Learn about the ways in which diverse ecosystems provide for us, and why it is important to protect and sustain them.

Working scientifically

World Food Day is the ideal time to break out some practical, one-off Science investigations and experiments involving food. Why not look at some ways in which food is produced and preserved, such as baking bread, pickling vegetables or making butter?

Design and technology

Cooking and nutrition

Prepare healthy, nutritious and seasonal meals from a variety of ingredients.

Food packaging

Design functional, attractive food packaging which also shows features such as ingredients and nutritional values.

PSHE/Citizenship/Education for Social Responsibility

Fair Trade

Find out about fair trade products, and how they help ensure food security for food producers in other parts of the world.

Reducing Waste

Learn how reducing waste, including food waste, can help protect the environment.

Circular Economies

Discover how circular economies work – and how sustainable food systems are a vital part of a circular economy that can protect and sustain the planet.

TEACHERS: Check out the Education for Social Responsibility curriculum, with ready-to-teach mini-schemes of work all about fair and ethical trade.


Human Geography

Discover where our food comes from, and how different foods can be produced in different climate biomes around the world.


  • Writing instructions (recipes)
  • Examining and improving food labelling
  • Writing information texts about food security, hunger and obesity
  • Persuasive writing – arguing for reduced waste, better diets or improved food supply chains


  • Ratio and proportion: scaling recipes
  • Statistics: making charts and graphs to show balanced diets


Religious Education

Special foods, fasting and feasting

Learn about various traditions of world religions involving food, and discover why certain foods are considered 'special' in different religions.

TEACHERS: You can find out more about what's happening during World Food Day 2020 by following the hashtags #WorldFoodDay and #FoodHeroes on social media. For more activity ideas and resources you can use to celebrate World Food Day in school, check out our World Food Day collection.

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