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Sites to behold: Freerice.com 

As the holidays roll around and food seems to be on everyone’s mind, it never hurts to consider the considerable number of people around the world lacking this basic resource. There are a number of ways to respond to this need—donate food to the food bank or volunteer at a shelter. Or you can go online and play a vocabulary game.

Free Rice is a website that quizzes your vocabulary. For example, acquire means ... a) rinse b) conserve money c) sulk d) gain. If you answer correctly your next question becomes more difficult, and Free Rice donates 10 grains of rice to United Nations World Food Program for each correct answer.

The United Nations World Food Program in partnership with the Berkman Center runs the site for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Their mission statement is two-fold. Firstly, they “provide education to everyone for free.” And secondly, “help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.” Free Rice was founded in 2007, and while vocabulary is the primary quiz subject, visitors can also find questions about art, chemistry, English, geography, language learning, and math.

In 2007 Free Rice donated 12,255,121,230 grains of rice. In 2008 that number jumped to 43,942,622,700. For October 2009 the total was 1,611,699,490, significantly lower than the year’s highest month (so far), January, which totaled 2,416,239,520 donated grains of rice.

Free Rice also shares information and statistics about world hunger, such as the fact that one in six people do not receive enough food to be healthy.

Thus far the donations have been distributed to such places as Bangladesh to feed refugees from Myanmar, Cambodia to provide food rations for pregnant women, Uganda to feed school children, and Nepal to feed Bhutanese refugees.

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