The United Nations' food aid agency has called on budding film-makers to help it raise awareness of hunger and bring the reality of abject poverty and suffering to the YouTube generation.

The World Food Program (WFP) launched a contest on Wednesday for edgy 30 or 60 second video(s) that will make the online community buzz about global hunger, it said.

For those of us doing the day-in, day-out backbreaking work of getting food to hungry people, it's sometimes discouraging how few people understand that hunger stalks and kills a child every five seconds, said WFP communications director Nancy Roman.

The five best films will be posted on the WFP's YouTube site, with the overall winner receiving a trip to one of the agency's relief operations.

Filmmakers stand a better chance of winning if they get play on blogs or networking sites like Facebook or MySpace before the competition's July 2008 deadline, WFP said.

The agency has posted its own video at its site, which shows footage of people in eating competitions bolting down hotdogs and plates of spaghetti, accompanied by The Beatles' song Piggies.

At the end of the video, the text reads: 850 million go to bed hungry every night ... Share.

It is not the first time WFP has used computer technology to raise awareness of its work. In 2005 it launched a video game for children called Food Force in which players can plan and deliver emergency food drops to starving people.

(Reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Michael Winfrey)