Who says ending world hunger is a job for grown-ups? Heifer International is bringing young people in on its mission to make poor families self-sufficient.

Heifer International is a non-profit organization working to end world hunger and save the earth through the gift of farm animals and training. The idea is to provide families with a renewable source of food.

“The family’s health and standard of living improves by the many benefits their animal can provide—milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, draft power, etc.,” reads the organization’s Web site.

Now kids can lend a helping hand.

ReadToFeed.org is a new outreach of Heifer aimed at involving school-aged children in the battle against hunger.

The Read to Feed program is a reading motivation/service learning program in which “children are inspired to read more books for pleasure, while raising money, through sponsored reading, to help end world hunger and improve the environment.”

The program also has a standards-based curriculum, “Lessons from a Village Called Earth.” Educators and parents can request a free packet, which includes: a video; Beatrice’s Goat (a New York Times best-seller about a young girl whose life was changed by the gift of a goat), stickers and bookmarks for the children, classroom posters, booklets about other children benefiting from Heifer’s gifts of animals, and program instructions and ideas for usage.

Children read and participate in discussions about hunger, world population, global food distribution, cultural diversity, sustainable development, the environment and other issues. Then the kids have adults sponsor their reading. The money raised goes to purchase animals for needy families.

The Read to Feed Web site is very kid-friendly, offering education games and puzzles about the world. Kids can download postcards to send to friends, work crossword puzzles, play animal matching games, answer trivia questions and much more.

Visitors to the site can also read about real kids and their animals. The site also has a long list of suggested books for children to read.

Whether involved in the Read to Feed program or not, children will find the program’s Web site educational, interactive and fun.

Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.

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