This guest post contributed by Action Against Hunger – one of our partner organizations.

The beginning of the year means many things-New Year’s resolutions, increasingly brighter days, budding flowers and baby animals. But for the Race Against Hunger team, the first of the year means only one thing: the beginning of our educational presentations!

The Race Against Hunger is the largest initiative in Action Against Hunger’s educational portfolio. The annual program, initially launched in Chicago during the 2007/08 school year, is an outreach campaign educating students across the United States about the causes and effects of severe acute malnutrition. The past two years have shown remarkable growth for the Race. Since launching the Race with a pilot group of 4 schools in Chicago, we expanded last year to 40 schools spread across 12 states and Canada. For the 2010 school year, we are planning to expand the Race to 100 schools, and I’m proud to report that we’re well on our way to meeting this ambitious goal. We’ve already recruited nearly 90 schools from New York to Los Angeles, Houston to Chicago-and everywhere in between!

The Race occurs in two parts: an educational section-designed to integrate hunger education into curriculum standards-followed by a fundraising fun-run to support Action Against Hunger’s global programs. Our Race Against Hunger team enhances the classroom component by providing interactive educational presentations to each participating school.

Each presentation empowers students in the fight to end global hunger. This year, we’ve chosen to highlight the importance of community. Often times, students are overwhelmed by the incomprehensible numbers-over 1 billion people around the world suffer from malnutrition, 15,000 die every day from hunger-related causes-and wonder how one individual can make an impact. While it may be difficult for one student to draw attention to this pandemic, an entire class, school, or city can certainly garner interest and support. Through our Race presentations, we are able to show students that by combining energy, enthusiasm, and funds, their community can affect communities in countries around the world.

Our rigorous presentation schedule kicked off with schools in Arizona and Texas last week and heads to California and Chicago next. While our team has already fielded intelligent questions about water contamination, malnutrition treatments, and long-term effects on child health, one question sticks out in my mind. During the presentation, a kindergartener in Austin raised her hand and quietly asked, “It seems like lots of these kids are dying; what can we do to help?” For an inspired community, the possibilities are endless.