The hospitality industry bands together as 75 restaurants across Canada join an innovative program to help end youth hunger in their communities!
Four years ago Andrew Hall and Jeremy Bryant quit their jobs as a consultant and an accountant in order to start a non-profit called Mealshare. Their vision was to create an organization that would be part of the solution to address statistics like “one in every five Canadian children live in conditions of poverty” and work to create a world where youth hunger was a thing of the past. So, for the last four years, Mealshare has been working hard to create a movement among the hospitality industry to band together and start feeding youth in need, not just their paying customers. The good news? It’s working!
The organization’s buy one, give one, corporate social responsibility program for restaurants has been growing by leaps and bounds. They just finished their last round of “city expansion launches” at the beginning of July, which resulted in seventy five new restaurants joining the program, upping Mealshare’s restaurant partner total to just over 330 nation-wide. This will allow it to provide more than 60,000 meals per month to hungry youth throughout dozens of communities across Canada and abroad. Also, last week this team of change makers celebrated surpassing the amazing milestone of providing 1.5 million meals to those in need since their inception! Other exciting updates include speaking at WE Day, adding on additional local charity partners, and recently launching in Austin, Texas!
The program itself is extremely simple, yet impactful. The company works with restaurants to put their Mealshare logo beside a few menu items on a restaurant’s menu. When a diner orders one of these Mealshare menu items at a partner restaurant, a simple, healthy meal is provided to a youth in need at no extra cost. For each featured meal sold, participating restaurants contribute financially to Mealshare, which forwards most of the funds to its network of partner charities to purchase the groceries and ingredients needed for a meal. The result: buy one, give one — a meal for a meal.
But the meals Mealshare provides are done so with long term change in mind says Mealshare Co-founder Andrew Hall. “The meals that we provide are the catalyst for long-term systemic change, because we’ve partnered with solution-focused charity partners. Our charity partners don’t just provide meals randomly on the side of a street corner, they use their meals to incentivize education or expose children and their families to programs that can change their lives!” Half of the meals Mealshare provides are given out through their local charity partners (at least one in each city they are active in) and the other half are provided through their international charity partner Save the Children Canada.
Robbie Kane, the owner of one of Vancouver’s most highly recognized brunch restaurants has been a long time supporter of Mealshare and said that “Mealshare really is a no brainer, because everyone wins. I’m really proud to be a partner and I’m so excited to see that more and more restaurants are joining the program. It’s starting to become a symbol of social consciousness to be a Mealshare partner and that’s exciting to see!”
Jack Demers, Executive Chef from Milestones Crossroads and winner of Chopped Canada said “Mealshare is just so easy and affordable for us business owners! Same goes for our diners! When you eat, you help, BUT you don’t have to do anything. It’s giving made easy for both restaurants and diners.”
The main cities that Mealshare can be found in throughout Canada are: Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal. Mealshare has big plans to keep growing into more Canadian cities, such as Winnipeg, as well as more cities south of the border in the future.
A not-for-profit organization launched in Calgary in 2013, Mealshare partners with restaurants and designated charities in cities across Canada to provide meals for youth in need. For every Mealshare-branded item ordered at 330 participating restaurants, one complimentary meal will be donated to youth struggling with hunger through their local city charity partners and their international partner, Save the Children Canada. Since its inception, Mealshare has served 1.5 million meals to youth in need.