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Database Provider


ASU Global Futures


6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Social Studies, Economics, Civics, Geography, Health

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West



How to Analyze Sustainability Problems: Food Deserts

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  • In this lesson, students practice analyzing a sustainability problem with the concept of food deserts.
  • After reading an article about food deserts, groups of students discuss the article and build a fishbone diagram to highlight the central problem and contributing factors. Then, groups consider possible food desert solutions and incorporate them into their diagrams.
  • Students will need to use this article and these solution cards for the lesson.

Teaching Tips


  • This lesson is relevant and the topic of food deserts will likely engage young learners. 
  • This lesson puts students in the position of problem solvers and administrators of a solution.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should already have a working knowledge of environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
  • The link to Chain Reaction Magazine does not work, but you can still access the article, Cultivating the Food Desert.


  • This activity could be extended by debating the possible solutions and building cost-benefit analyses or arguments for which is the most viable. 
  • The resource includes five additional extension activities for students to repeat the solution analysis process using different sustainability topics. 
  • For learners that need additional support in a group discussion or analyzing the food desert solutions, the teacher could provide the following prompting questions:
  • What parts of the problem will this solution do the best job of fixing?
  • Are there any parts of the problem that will remain even after the solution has been implemented?
Scientist Notes
The resource explores various environmental, societal, health, and economic problems associated with food deserts. Students can engage and design plans to mitigate the impact in a sustainable fashion. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.14.6-8 Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies, and promoting the common good.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.12.6-8 Explain how global changes in population distribution patterns affect changes in land use in particular places.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
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