Green groups hold Facebook Free Rice competition

Sammy Caiola

In the days following the launch of Northwestern’s Green Cup, several sustainability-minded campus groups are hosting a weeklong competition for FreeRice, an online quiz game that helps feed undernourished populations worldwide.

Freerice.com hosts a vocabulary game in which every correct answer allows 10 grains of rice to be donated to the World Food Programme, according to FreeRice’s website. On Sunday, Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights, GREEN House, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Office of Sustainability and NU Food Talks teamed up to host the first NU FreeRice competition.

Since Feb. 6, students have been posting their highest game scores to Free Rice Week’s Facebook group. When the event ends Feb. 12, the sponsors will randomly select participants to receive prizes, according to GREEN House president Mark Silberg. As of Tuesday night, NU students had collectively won 46,900 grains of rice, according to the Facebook page.

Silberg, a Weinberg sophomore, said although events that are time-consuming or financially demanding might seem daunting to students, FreeRice is a win-win because it is both fun and beneficial.

“There are little things we can do today where our collective action can make change,” he said. “If everybody spent five minutes a day on FreeRice, that is thousands and thousands of grains of rice, which translates to hundreds of meals feeding hundreds of people. You can play Sporcle and that’s great, but this has a social impact.”

Paige Humecki, a McCormick junior and sustainability intern with NU Cuisine, said the competition is an easy way to raise awareness about hunger issues.

“It seems like a simple thing to do to help a great cause,” Humecki said.

Some students said they are attracted to the weeklong challenge for the competition aspect more than the charitable aspect. Tristan Sokol, a McCormick junior, said he saw his friend Silberg’s score was a thousand grains and had to play until he got to 1,100. He said the donation was not a factor in his decision to play, but it’s still a plus.

“I think it’s a cool concept, just trying to get more NU students organized to make a social impact in an easier way,” Sokol said. “Playing FreeRice isn’t as hard as volunteering or donating money or something. I feel better as a person knowing we didn’t play the ‘Take away rice game’ or anything.”

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