In An Eye-Opening Lesson in Math, 6th Graders Purchase Nutritious Groceries Using SNAP Budget Guidelines

By Joshua Bookin, Middle School math teacher


The 6th graders recently finished their percentages unit with a cross-curricular science and math project geared toward promoting equity and social justice in the world.


The 6th grade has been learning about nutrition in science class while simultaneously exploring the details of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in math class. They discovered that based on their income (approximately $30,000 per year), a family of 4 in New York City can be awarded up to $642 per month to aid in their budgeting for food.. That means families only get $160.50 per week to supplement their food budgets.


The project required students to use their knowledge of nutrition and percentages to create a week’s worth of healthy meals. They then took to to figure out how to buy all the ingredients they needed to complete their weekly meal plans on the meager budget of $160.50.


After the project concluded, the 6th grade math teachers (Rebecca Mondre, Orville Drummond, Tyler Robson, Kevin Rall, and myself) compiled a master list of healthy meals and actually purchased almost $2000 worth of food. In conjunction with the CGPS Columbia Cares leaders, the food was donated to the Antioch Food Pantry here in New York City. Thus, the students were able to apply their S.T.E.A.M. education directly to the cause of social justice.


The 6th graders worked diligently for two weeks while building their meal plans and keeping their costs under budget. One group even came within one penny of their goal! It was a terrific lesson that illustrated how our academic endeavors can be applied to real world problems in order to create solutions that promote social justice and equity. The Middle School math department is very proud of the 6th graders’ accomplishments.