Billion grains of rice donated to UN anti-hunger agency thanks to Internet game

9 November 2007 – An Internet game in which a website donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme for every vocabulary question answered correctly by participants has passed the 1 billion grain threshold after just one month of operations.

The amount donated by FreeRice.com, founded by the United States fundraising pioneer John Breen, reached 1,008,771,910 grains yesterday, 32 days after the site was launched. That is enough to feed more than 50,000 people for one day.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran hailed the FreeRice game as an example of how the Internet can mobilize millions of people worldwide to end want.

“Every grain of rice is essential in the fight against hunger,” she said, noting that hunger claims more lives than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

“FreeRice really hits how the Web can be harnessed to raise awareness and funds for the world’s number one emergency,” said the WFP chief, praising the site’s marketing success.

FreeRice relies on payments from companies that place advertisements on the site to underwrite its donations to WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian agency.

On 7 October, the first day of the site’s operations, only 830 grains were donated. But with the help of bloggers and social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook, the numbers have grown exponentially, and yesterday more than 77 million grains – or the equivalent of seven million clicks – was donated.

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