Game turns wordplay into food

Published May 1, 2008, an online vocabulary game run by the World Food Programme, uses banner advertising to pay for rice for the world’s hungry. Since last October, it has generated 21 billion grains of rice.

Know what “palliation” means? How about “ternary,” “opprobrious” or “pelerine?” Playing an Internet game designed to test vocabulary is leading to huge donations of rice for the world’s hungry, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), which is based in Rome.

Found at, each click that chooses the correct definition of a word results in a donation of 20 grains of rice. Since the game was launched on Oct. 7, 2007, it has generated 21 billion grains of rice –  enough to feed 1.1 million people for one day, said the WFP.

Game creator John Breen estimated recently that 300,000 to 500,000 people are playing FreeRice each day.

Banner advertising on the site pays for the rice donations, which the WFP distributes. Among the people fed are refugees from Myanmar living in Bangladesh, schoolchildren in Uganda and Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.


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