Agriculture in the Classroom is not just something for rural kids and they showed that again this week with the launch of a new educational resource to help students learn valuable life skills and prepare for life in the real world. "The Food Security Budget Game helps high school students develop important life skills,” says Sara Shymko, Executive Director of AITC-SK. “Students learn that many families are only a paycheck or unexpected expense away from food insecurity. It is imperative that students understand the barriers and challenges of food security, and why budgeting is so important to financial stability.” Agriculture in The Classroom (AITC-SK) aims to connect young people to agriculture. As more and more of the province’s population resides in urban areas there is a growing need to empower students to think critically and provide accurate, balanced, current, and science-based information.
According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, 5.8 million Canadians, including 1.4 million children, lived in food insecure households in 2021. With rampant inflation across the country, those numbers are certain to be exceeded this year as more workers find their paycheques have significantly less buying power. In the newly released learning game promotes critical thinking and problem solving while increasing food and financial literacy. The high school students are immersed in a budgeting activity that includes such real-life financial situations as varying incomes and family structures and must establish a monthly budget. For example students could be given the information that their monthly income is $3500, they are a family of four with one child in childcare, need to have a car to get groceries and have medical expenses of $150 per month. Then they are faced with an unplanned or emergency expense that they must accommodate in their budget, such as a twist of fate which tells them that the price of gas and food has increased due to inflation, and they need to budget for an extra $250. Often the financial sacrifice includes food.
The Food Security Budget Game was developed through a partnership between Conexus Credit Union and AITC-SK to provide teachers with a tool that can help prepare youth for the future. Financial literacy is a critical life skill for people of all ages and too often students fell that they emerge from high school unqualified to cope with the financial realities of today’s volatile economic environment. Any resource that can provide young people with the skills to make good financial decisions is a valuable on. Financial literacy allows people to feel more confidence in their ability to make smart, responsible decisions with their money.
This is just the newest resource that AITC-SK has available on their website for teachers at all levels of the school system covering topics such as Saskatchewan’s role in global food security, how to interpret food labels and advertisements, and Guardians of the Grasslands, a short documentary that explores the current state of one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems - the grasslands in the Great Plains.
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder