Freerice.com – the helpful way to procrastinate

Over the past few weeks, I’ve introduced five websites that allow users to waste countless hours avoiding their homework and watch the minutes pass at work.

While entertaining and distracting, these websites don’t accomplish anything for the greater good of society.  Freerice.com is a non-profit website started by John Breen in October 2007, whose main goals are to “provide education to everyone for free,” and to “help end world hunger by providing ride to hungry people for free.”

In March 2009, Breen donated the site to the United Nations Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization and the front-line agency against world hunger.

Users who visit Freerice choose from one of six categories of multiple choice questions.  As the user answers more questions, the degree of difficulty increases.

The website automatically places the player on level one, but if the questions are too easy, one has the ability to choose any level between one and sixty.

For every correct answer to an Art, Chemistry, Language Learning, English, Geography, or Math question, ten grains of rice are donated to hungry people around the world.  

The donated rice is paid for by the sponsors whose ads appear at the bottom of the page after each question is answered.  Sponsers include Citi, DSM, Nationale Postcode Loterij, TNT, Unilever, Vodaphone Foundation/United Nations Foundation, Yum! Brands, Boston Consulting Group, Credit Suisse, Kemin Industries, MCE, and SAP.

“In countries where rice is a staple part of the diet, WFP provides on average about 400 grams of rice per person, per day.  That includes two meals that include other ingredients to ensure a minimum of 2,100 kilocalories per day.  There are about 48 grains of rice in a gram,” says Freerice.com.

With about 48 grains of rice equalling a gram, and 400 grams required to feed one person, it takes approximately 19,200 grains of rice to feed one person for the day.  It takes 1,920 questions answered on Freerice to feed one person.

Freerice.com also has a page to track the progress made by year, month, and individual days within the month.  The current total of rice donated exceeds 85 billion grains, meaning that more than 44 million people have been fed for a day since the site’s beginning four years ago.

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