“Free Rice” Uses Trivia Games to Feed the Hungry



PrintThis article celebrates World Food Day, 16 October, 2014.


World Food Day has been officially recognized by the United Nations every year since it was first conceived in 1945. It’s meant to celebrate and recognize the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) branch of the UN, which works towards ending world hunger.

While the officially recognized day draws much needed attention to food insecurity, the issue is still faced by millions of people worldwide. According to a recent article published by National Geographic, roughly 30 percent of food produced in the USA is wasted. The FAO extend that, noting that one third of global food production is thrown away or not used appropriately. This equals about 2.8 trillion pounds of food that could feed up to three billion people.

To combat this epic loss, a website called Free Rice, which is owned and operated by the World Food Programme, is working to ensure that food is properly distributed to those who need it.

Free Rice has two goals. First, to “Provide education to everyone for free,” and second, to “Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.”

The website is set up with trivia-like games that allow funds donated by sponsors to purchase rice for the WFP. Free Rice was developed in 2007 by John Breen, a computer programmer, who later donated the website to the WFP in 2009. It has been successful ever since.

FreeRiceThere are different categories of questions that players can choose from, which range from English vocabulary to math, geography, art history and more. After answering three answers correctly, you advance to the next level, but a wrong answer will send you back a level.

Each correct answer sees ten grains of rice donated. The sponsors – who are displayed in advertisements on each page – donate money to the WFP for each correct answer, which then allows for rice to be purchased. Correct answers are constantly recorded so that the correct amount of donations can be allocated.

Rice that has been bought and donated through the website has been distributed to people worldwide. For example, between January 2011 and May 2011, all rice that was donated was given to people in Haiti, which fed two meals to roughly 300,000 people.

Rice has also been given to a refugee camp in Nepal, which fed roughly 108,000 people for three days.

While the amount of rice needed to feed a single person one meal varies between country and age grouping, an average is 400 grams per person per day, with 48 grains of rice equal to a single gram. Each month, billions of grains of rice are donated and distributed as a result of people playing on the website.

FreeRice2Free Rice has won numerous awards, including the Digital Communications Award in 2011, and has been listed on TIME Magazine’s “50 Best Websites” list in both 2008 and 2011.

The theme for this year’s World Food Day is “Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the Earth.” It has a focus on small family farming, which provides sustainable access to food, food security, helps to improve livelihoods, and works towards eradicating both hunger and poverty in developing countries For more information, visit the Food and Agriculture Organization. For more on Free rice, click here.





Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth DiCesare

Elizabeth is a writer currently based in Kitchener-Waterloo.

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