Fight World Hunger from Your Computer: How Free Rice’s Trivia Saves Lives

Article by Bobby Miller | 848 words

With climate change, world hunger, poverty and too many fatal illnesses to list, it can feel overwhelming to think about all the issues we need to address. Some people who look at everything wrong with the world assume there’s so little they can do that they end up doing nothing—or perhaps they “like” a charity on Facebook and leave it at that. However, small contributions to worthy causes can change lives, even if it’s one life at a time.

By connecting the world together, the Internet provides us numerous ways to help others anytime, anywhere—assuming there’s a Wi-Fi connection available. Many websites donate money to helpful causes simply when you use them. For instance, GoodSearch.com doesn’t ask you for any of your money at all. But every time you perform an online search through it, one penny of its advertising revenue goes to the cause of your choosing. One penny per search can add up fast: I, for one, have raised over fifty dollars thanks to my browsing habits.

GoodSearch.com is only one of the sites out there that allows you to help the world with just a few clicks. Other places are aware that a little time and effort can snowball quickly.

FreeRice.com: Ease World Hunger as You Train Your Brain

One of the most disturbing issues we face today is world hunger. The organization Bread for the World estimates that 868 million people are undernourished. In contrast, people in thriving countries have way more food than they need. The World Health Organization states that over 600 million people are obese.

While there are numerous charities worth donating to as we attempt to curb the hunger crisis, one of the most interesting efforts to feed the hungry is FreeRice.com. The concept is simple: the site offers multiple choice questions, and whenever you get one right, it purchases ten grains of rice for needy people.

Free Rice screenshot

The display to the right shows how many grains of rice you’ve sponsored today, and below every question is an advertisement. Apparently, AdChoices thinks I need to keep my underwear cleaner.

Although the first questions are laughably simple, the difficulty level increases as you progress further, and you have the option to skip right to the tough stuff if you’d like. The bulk of the website is devoted to testing your vocabulary, but there are other topics to explore as well, including world history, chemistry, foreign words and even SAT preparation. However, some subjects are more well developed than others. While there are hundreds upon hundreds of questions devoted to improving your English vocabulary, some of which will even have college professors scratching their heads, I was able to breeze through the ten difficulty levels of Spanish vocabulary in nothing flat—even though I haven’t taken una clase de español in seven years. Still, the variety of options is appreciable, and the number of questions devoted to them could rise as the website becomes more popular.

How the Charity Feeds the Hungry

FreeRice.com explains the details behind its operation on the FAQ page. Why does answering a bunch of multiple choice questions let them give rice to hungry people? Well, along the bottom of every question’s page, you’ll find an advertisement looking at you. All the revenue from these ads goes toward feeding the hungry, according to the FAQ page. For this reason, the website strongly encourages you to turn off any ad-blocking software you might be using.

Ten grains of rice per question might sound like nothing, especially since it takes roughly 19,200 grains of rice to give a person their recommended dosage of calories every day. However, the website can have well over 5 million grains donated in one day if the community is active enough. That’s over 260 people fed, all thanks to individuals willing to take a few minutes out of their day to test their brains. Better yet, this organization purchases its rice within the countries it helps, such as Cambodia, in order to help the local economies.

Using FreeRice.com in Different Ways

The website doesn’t require registration, so you can hop on and start answering questions in mere seconds. However, you can register an account if you would like to keep track of how much rice you’ve funded. The website also allows users to form groups. Perhaps a classroom full of students could see how much they can raise in an hour, or perhaps you and your friends could compete to see who can raise 1,000 grains the most quickly. FreeRice.com encourages you to share your accomplishments on Facebook and Twitter, which can help spread the word further.

No matter how you decide to use the website, remember that it’s very quick and convenient. I, for one, often bring it up if I’m waiting for something to load or have a few minutes to kill before heading somewhere. Those tiny grains add up, allowing people to live thanks to a little effort on your part. The number of people regularly participating on the website has actually declined in recent years, so it needs all the help it can get. If you would like to join the website or find other innovative ways you can curb the hunger crisis, I urge you to check out FreeRice.com today.

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