The World Food Program’s (WPG’s) video game Food Force invites children, and people of all ages, to complete six virtual missions that reflect real-life obstacles faced by WFP in its emergency responses both to the tsunami and other hunger crises around the world.
By World Food Program (WPG)
Since its release in 2005, the World Food Program’s (WPG’s) video game to teach children, and people of all ages, about the logistical challenges of delivering food aid in a major humanitarian crisis has been downloaded over 6 million times, and has an estimated network of 10 million players worldwide!
Set on a fictitious island called Sheylan riven by drought and war, Food Force invites children, and people of all ages, to complete six virtual missions that reflect real-life obstacles faced by WFP in its emergency responses both to the tsunami and other hunger crises around the world.
With tens of thousands of Sheylan’s residents displaced and in urgent need of food aid, players are required to pilot helicopters on reconnaissance missions, airdrop high energy biscuits to internally displaced person (IDP) camps, negotiate with armed rebels on a food convoy run and use food aid to help rebuild villages.
You can download the free game here:
"Communicating with children today means using the latest technology," said Neil Gallagher, WFP’s Director of Communications, speaking on the day the game was unveiled at the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy.
“We believe that Food Force will generate kids’ interest and understanding about hunger, which kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”
Virtual Aid Workers
To underline the game’s main objectives of teaching children about global hunger and WFP’s efforts to fight it, each mission begins with a briefing on the task ahead by a member of the Food Force team of virtual aid workers.
It is followed by feedback on the player’s performance and an educational video filmed on the frontlines of WFP’s work in the field.
Food Force: the Missions
Mission One is all about hunger assessment. The island of Sheylan is suffering the effects of drought and civil war, and the player must take to the air to evaluate how many people need feeding and the quickest way to get food to them -- just as WFP initially used air surveillance in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Mission Two focuses on WFP’s efforts to find a balance between nutritional needs, local diet and total cost when designing its food rations. Players are challenged to combine essential commodities such as rice, beans, vegetable oil and sugar to create a balanced and nutritious diet for Sheylan’s inhabitants, on a budget of just 30 US cents per person per meal.
Mission Three tests the player’s ability to airdrop food to communities on Sheylan isolated by war and/or geography without endangering lives. WFP frequently uses airdrops to reach Sudanese IDP's cut off by the rainy season or fighting.
Mission Four focuses on the vital, first step in delivering food aid: buying the food. Players must calculate how and where to purchase food in order to satisfy Sheylan’s immediate and longer-term needs during the six months following the emergency.
Mission Five is concerned with a key link in the WFP food supply chain that stretches from donor nations via planes, lorries and ships to the mouths of the hungry. The player is responsible for ensuring the safe arrival of a convoy of food trucks, and, like WFP trucks in the field, must negotiate obstacles including land mines, fallen bridges and local rebel forces.
Mission Six deals with the longer-term development challenges which follow an emergency, when the hungry and homeless must rebuild their lives and communities.
The Food Force site also includes more information about WFP and features a special section for teachers with downloadable lesson plans on what hunger is, why it exists and how to end it. A How to Help section provides ideas on fundraising and school involvement.
“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,” said Gallagher.
"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."
This information and all images and the video are from World Food Program’s (WPG’s) at http://www.wfp.org/how-to-help/individuals/food-force.
Related Book with accompanying DVDs:
In the Introduction to his chapter “Malnutrition and Undernutrition” in a new book, Water and Sanitation Related Diseases and the Environment: Challenges, Interventions and Preventive Measures, Dr. Jeffrey K. Griffiths, writes: “Malnutrition and undernutrition remain prominent global causes of ill health and premature mortality. These conditions contribute to high rates of mortality in children under the age of 5 and in pregnant women, as well as to morbidity in many age ranges. A recent estimate is that malnutrition contributes to the death of one-third of all children under the age of 5. Malnutrition can kill directly, as in famine, and also indirectly, by increasing both the rate and severity of infectious diseases. Above and beyond these medical outcomes, malnutrition and undernutrition contribute to lower educational productivity, and to lower social achievement and earning power.”
Jeffrey K. Griffiths, MD MPH&TM, is Director, Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program for Africa, Chair, Drinking Water Committee, US EPA Science Advisory Board, Professor of Public Health, and Director, Global Health, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University Schools of Medicine, Nutrition, Veterinary Medicine and Engineering