One in seven households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger.
- U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
From Julia Davis, teacher at Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, CA on how her class, Memoir and Social Change, incorporated DIVE! into the curriculum.
"Memoir and Social change is an unconventional English class that asks students
to take the extensive language study of their first three years at Polytechnic School
to new heights: they have to put words into action. We study memoir first semester
so that students can explore who they are and what they stand for as individuals;
then, second semester they explore social justice issues that resonate with who
they are, and they have to join with classmates in problem-solving real world issues.
First semester, to prepare for second semester’s focus in social change, I showed
the kids a smattering of documentaries. Dive! was one of them, and the students
immediately loved it. It was local, presented a simple and solvable problem, and
had a blend of irreverence and heart that spoke to them.
Dive! gave us a starting point for social change. Its power was elemental, in a
way: all students no matter their background were shocked that so much food goes
to waste because it’s easier to waste it than donate it. Their sense of justice
They decided they wanted to study food generally and food waste specifically second
semester. I compiled some readings for them—Wendell Berry, Frances Moore Lappe and
others—that covered the issue of food from various perspectives: spiritual, ethical,
environmental, psychological. They had to write an essay on the meaning of food,
doing an analysis of their favorite meal or favorite food experience. They also
did what I call an “empathy dinner.” They had to have dinner with someone very different
from them over a meal both parties enjoy, and then write about it. The idea behind
this came from a book Frances Moore Lappe wrote with her daughter called Hope’s
Edge, which they introduce with these words:
“Because food is our most primal need and our common bond to the earth and one another,
it can ground us as we stretch ourselves to draw in all the interlaced threads—so
we can weave a whole, meaningful picture. … With food as a starting point, we can
choose to meet people and to encounter events so powerful that they jar us out of
our ordinary way of seeing the world, and open us up to new, uplifting, and empowering
I wanted them to understand the universality and power of food, and overwhelmingly
their empathy papers revealed that they had more similarities than differences with
The students have now seen Dive! three times—and it holds up! As a class they joined
the Eat Trash campaign, as did 100 of their peers at Poly. Educationally, the students
have learned a lot from the film about how to interrogate an issue and how to confront
power when it’s necessary to do so. When they met with Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s
VP of Marketing, they showed that they had learned from Jeremy how to strike a firm
and respectful tone as a concerned citizen. The film gave them the information and
the activist tools to not only resist Sloan’s easy answers as to why Trader Joe’s
couldn’t do more but also to try to persuade him why a corporate policy is what
concerned customers—not to mention hungry people—deserve.
Overall, there’s such a respect for food that comes through in the film. And this
is what my kids now get. My very well-fed, educationally and, largely, economically
privileged kids—they get that food simply can’t be wasted as people go hungry. Democrat,
Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green, Leftie—we’ve got ‘em all in MSC and
they all agree: it’s just disrespectful, it’s just wrong, it’s just arrogant to
throw out edible food. And they feel empowered to do something about it. What else
is education about?"