Video games and champion rowing reunions join UN arsenal in war on hunger

14 April 2005

A virtual world of video game planes launching airdrops of food over crisis zones and emergency trucks struggling up treacherous roads under rebel threat, and a real-world reunion of Olympic gold medallist rowers, are among the latest tools in the United Nations effort to raise funds and global awareness in the fight against hunger.

In “Food Force,” a video game unveiled today by the World Food Programme (WFP) at the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy, children will be faced with a number of realistic challenges to urgently feed thousands of people on the fictitious island of Sheylan, piloting helicopters on reconnaissance missions, negotiating with armed rebels on a convoy run and using food to help rebuild villages.

“Communicating with children today means using the latest technology,” WFP Director of Communications Neil Gallagher said. “Children in the developed world don’t know what it’s like go to bed threatened by starvation. In an exciting and dynamic form, Food Force will generate kids’ interest and understanding about hunger, which kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”

The PC-based video game is available as a free internet download from, currently in English, with translation into other languages planned. The website is designed with a dedicated area for kids to post their high scores. “How to Help” section provides ideas on fundraising and community involvement. For educators, WFP has teamed up with the “Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger” website to provide downloadable teachers’ lesson packs in multiple languages.

“Food Force is a game that parents will encourage their children to play at home, and that teachers will find stimulating to use in the classroom,” Mr. Gallagher said. “So many parents complain about the blood and gratuitous violence that kids are so frequently exposed to in video games. This is a fun and action packed alternative.”

Before each mission begins, the player is presented with an educational video segment about the reality of WFP work in field, allowing them to learn and understand how WFP responds to actual food emergencies – where food originates, its nutritional breakdowns and how it is delivered. Then, it is the players turn to take the mission challenge. Each challenge reflects one key element of the food delivery process – from emergency response through to building long-term food security for a community.

Meanwhile Great Britain’s most successful rowers will reunite next month to race together one last time, in a recreation of the historic “Redgrave 5th Gold” Sydney 2000 race, to raise money to feed children in areas affected by December’s Indian Ocean tsunami earthquake disaster.

For the first time since their victory in the coxless four at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and Tim Foster will compete together, in the original boat, in The National Lottery Legends Sprint. Joining them in the race, to take place during the Rowing World Cup on 28 May at Dorney Lake, Eton, will be crews from Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia and United States, all of whom competed in the 2000 Olympic final.

“I am delighted that the original GB rowing crew – and all of the international crews – have agreed to come together for this cause,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said. “It is testimony to them as individuals that they are giving up their time in order to raise vital money for the World Food Programme’s school feeding projects in these areas of the world that suffered the greatest impact from the tsunami.”


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