About 25,000 people around the world die every day of hunger and hunger-related ailments, according to the United Nations. At FreeRice.com you can make a small contribution to the fight against hunger and brush up on your vocabulary at the same time.For socially minded students and wordsmiths, the Internet game at FreeRice.com is becoming an addiction.
So before you sprint to the haberdashery to combat the throngs of procrastinating browsers to acquire last-minute indicia of your largesse, check it out.
Visitors to the site see a vocabulary word in bold and four possible definitions. By clicking the correct choice, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which distributes the rice to hungry people worldwide.
“I think it’s really cool that you see the bowl of rice fill up on the screen,” said Vincent Burkhardt, an eighth-grader at Stanley British Primary School in east Denver, where teachers are incorporating the site into their lessons and homework assignments.
Vincent’s social studies teacher, Molly Higginbottom, occasionally projects FreeRice.com on to a large screen and has the class decide on definitions as a group.
“Middle school is a very self-centered age. But I think these kids have a lot of gratitude, and they want to give back, but the opportunity isn’t always there so they can do it independently,” she said. “It’s an age when they would really like to be disconnected from their parents though they still need them.”
In an unusual display of pre-adolescent behavior, Higginbottom said the day she introduced FreeRice.com in class a few students asked if they could skip recess to continue playing.
FreeRice.com launched in early October and has so far donated over 11.3 billion grains of rice to the WFP. A computer programmer named John Breen developed the game with two goals in mind: to help people learn English vocabulary and to feed hungry people around the world. Breen also manages the site Poverty.com to educate people about hunger worldwide.
FreeRice.com is a nonprofit site that earns money through advertising and donates the cash to the WFP, which buys and distributes the rice. The FreeRice.com database contains thousands of words to challenge English-learners and college professors alike. Currently more are being added to avoid repetition.
The U.N. estimates it would cost $195 billion per year to completely end world hunger and hunger-related diseases. At FreeRice.com, everyone can help – 20 grains of rice at a time.
Vincent’s mother Andrea Paolino says it can be hard to tear her son away from the computer, but she welcomes his enthusiasm over FreeRice.com.
“Anytime I can get him to visit sites where he learns something, has fun and contributes to a greater good, I want to encourage him to do that.”