Sunday, May 06, 2012

Nerds Against Hunger, Atheists Giving Aid and Christians Fighting World Hunger Join in a Common Purpose

One of the things that I always admired about The ONE Campaign was its ability to attract a wide range of groups interested in placing a high priority on addressing global hunger.  This was a space where the Mennonite Central Committee, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Islamic World Relief and National Association of Social Workers could come together with a single purpose.  While the number of groups supporting ONE has shrunk a little, the list is still quite extensive and varied.
I came across another effort to address global hunger called Free Rice, and I marveled at the even greater range and disparity of participants.  This non-profit Web site run by the United Nations World Food Programme (WPF) offers an innovative to rally people around the world to provide free rice to communities throughout the globe that suffer hunger.

If you want to talk about disparity consider this list of informal groups participating in this effort. Can you say Atheists Giving Aid, Buddhists Fighing World Hunger, Muslims Fighting World Hunger, Christians Fighting World Hunger and Catholics Against Hunger in the same breath?

How about German Free Ricers, Pro-Marijuana Helpers, and Nerds against hunger working together?

And then there's Steeler Nation Feeds the World and New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees (watch his video on behalf of the WFP). There are very many, many groups from all walks of life participating in this effort.

You probably know that these are all informal groups participating in the contest created by the Free Rice program.  The concept is simple. Play a vocabulary game, and for every correct answer, 10 grains of rice is donated by the WFP to feed people in areas of need around the globe. You can play the game as an individual by simply going to the home page, and the game appears before you. In a single day (May 4), 7,898,460 grains of rice donated. Over 95 billion grains have been donated to date (see totals).

But often people who form groups to participate use some with very creative approaches. One group at Auburn University created a campaign called "Six Degrees of Freerice," to engage folks not only at the university but at universities around the country. The effort was launched on World Freerice Week on Feb. 6-12.  "It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity for young people to get their friends on board in the fight against hunger and tap into a global community engaged in changing the world for the better," said organizer Jayne Kucera.

But wait a minute. Isn't the mission of the WFP to donate commodities to areas of need?  The answer is "of course." But the mission of the WFP is also to create awareness about global hunger?  The Free Rice Program seems to meet both goals. A third goal, according to the organizers of Free Rice, is to stimulate the minds of players.  

Second question, where does the rice go? The WFP works around the globe, but certain countries have been frequent recipients. The list includes dozens of countries in Africa (such as Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Senegal, and Algeria), a few others in Latin America (such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Peru), another handful in Asia (including North Korea, the Philippines and India), and the Middle East (Iraq, Yemen, and others). See the Full List 

So go ahead and play and contribute to the WFP's efforts to address global hunger (which along with your advocacy efforts here at home), could make a big difference. You could form your own group, called Readers of the Bread New Mexico Blog Fight World Hunger.

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