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FreeRice and the Korean War

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The Korean War started this week during 1950. The brutal conflict claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and would have taken even more had it not been for humanitarian heroes.

Civilians seen fleeing in the fields during a retreat of UN forces during the Korean War. (Harry St. Truman Library)

Civilians seen fleeing in the fields during a retreat of UN forces during the Korean War. (Harry St. Truman Library)

The United Nations Civil Assistance Team helped the hungry and sick during the conflict. Koreans lost their homes, food supply, and practically everything. They were totally dependent on this humanitarian aid.

One of the members of the UN team was Major Charles Arnold, a U.S. Army veteran from Cincinnati. His team worked on a island that was now home to thousands of war refugees from both North and South Korea.

The feeding stations Arnold’s team set up were life-savers to children suffering from hunger. The UN provided free meals to children of rice and milk.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported, “After only a few weeks of this milk-and-rice diet you could actually see the children’s cheeks fill out and a healthy sparkle come to their eyes.”

Today, people at home on their computers can do the same thing Major Arnold’s team did and provide free rice. You go online to Freerice.com and play this game that benefits the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the largest food aid organization.

At FreeRice.com you answer trivia questions on numerous subjects. Each answer you get right means 10 grains of rice donated to WFP, paid for by advertisers. WFP is currently using the rice for school feeding programs in drought-stricken Niger. The UN food agency depends entirely on donations from governments, the public, and fundraisers like FreeRice.

The fight against hunger during the Korean War and its aftermath featured international cooperation among world governments. It meant emergency life-saving food aid, but then, even after the fighting had stopped, aid was given to rebuild.

Citizens also came through by buying CARE packages. The soldiers themselves purchased supplies for the refugees. The New York Times reported how the Minneapolis Police and Fire departments sent powdered milk to one of the UN Civil Assistance teams. The commander, Colonel Harry Mayfield, remarked that if only they could get 400 organizations like that sending supplies they could take care of this crisis as a whole.

That is in essence what it takes, many contributors to fight hunger. The age of the Internet has created new ways to be a humanitarian hero every day. FreeRice is one of those.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.