Perhaps you have already encountered this interesting way to increase charitable giving of food, but it was news to me when I recently heard about it. Through an interactive online vocabulary game, FreeRice.com provides a rather unique way to encourage participation in a campaign to address world hunger.
You are presented with a vocabulary word, and for each word definition you choose correctly (from 4 possibilities), 10 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations Food Program. Perhaps it doesn't sound like much, but after "playing" the game for a short while, I quickly reached in excess of 1000 grains donated, which I would expect could be enough to help alleviate hunger in at least one person for a meal for a day. It's a start.
The "game" is addictive. It is seriously challenging, as with each correct answer, the difficulty level of the vocabulary word will increase. I found it rather tough after hitting the high-30's, and I plateaued at level 43. This "challenge" alone kept me playing the rice donation game for quite a while, which is the idea (and a good one at that). It is engaging, and you'll find your vocabulary improving while you play, and your donated rice piles (graphical piles are displayed as you go) will grow.
I also did check to see whether this site was for real (i.e., truly charitable, and all proceeds going to the advertised cause), and it appears to be the case. The following is a quote from the site, which I will assume to be fact:
"Does FreeRice make any money from this?
FreeRice and its sister site Poverty.com have not made a penny from this. Nor does it cost us much, as our only significant expense is our servers."
With Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching, I can't help thinking how many less-fortunate people around the planet are in need of food. My participation via this rice donation site may be a small way to increase giving, but when multiplied by thousands of people (or millions) also making a small contribution, suddenly there is hope of making a real impact.
I couldn't help wondering why in particular Rice was the chosen grain to donate. Rice just happens to be Gluten-Free, but if the donations had been wheat or some other grain, I'd still have participated. Perhaps Rice is just the best grain to distribute for many reasons, whether potential for allergies with other grains, or because much of the rice produced these days is slightly fortified during processing (which would help address some nutritional deficiencies), or perhaps it is just the least expensive way to feed the most people. Either way, I find this rice donation program noteworthy.
Unrelated: Gluten-Free Cavemen
Although I missed the episode, a friend called to tell me about how Celiac Disease (or, more specifically, gluten) was a big topic on ABC's "Cavemen" television show during the "Rock Vote!" 11/13/07, Rock The Vote episode. Did any of you see it?
It is still available online here: http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing
From what I hear (I have yet to take time to view it), it was rather funny (though not particularly accurate with regards to Gluten and gluten-free diet issues), as a war was waged on Gluten during the election. Being a comedy, I'm not surprised it wasn't completely accurate, but one way or the other, it should raise awareness of the fact that many of us live gluten-free. I hear there was some discussion of how gluten-free food didn't taste the best -- perhaps I need to talk to ABC about this and bake some great gluten-free cookies or cake for them! :)