Victoria, British Columbia-based organization comes up with buy one, give one meal system
By HILARY CATON, Published: Nov 20, 2014
What if all it took to provide someone in need a nutritious meal was ordering one off a menu?
That’s the idea behind the organization Mealshare.
Based out of Victoria, British Columbia, a trio of young entrepreneurs – Andrew Hall, Jeremy Bryant, and Derek Juno from the University of Victoria – teamed up with the idea of buy one, give one.
“Eight million people dine out every day in Canada,” said Juno, Mealshare’s business developer. “And if we could get a small portion of those people eating Mealshare meals that would be amazing.”
According to Juno, the concept is very simple. For each Mealshare item purchased, the company receives $1 from the partner restaurant. About 70 per cent of it is donated directly to their partnered international charity Save the Children and a local charity in each city. All restaurant-goers have to do is choose a menu item with the non-profit’s logo next to it to know they’re helping out.
“It’s such an easy way to give back,” Juno said.
“We like that they don’t have to give anything extra or doing anything else. It’s just ordering off a menu.”
To date it’s served more than 122,000 meals with its 83 restaurant partners in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, with 19 more on the way by Nov. 25.
The four participating restaurants in Toronto are Café Belong, Hawthrone, Khao San Road and Satanee Nana.
For its local charity, Mealshare chose to partner with Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC). This partnership will provide a steady cash flow to its community meal program that, until now, was running solely off food donations from Second Harvest and the Daily Bread Food Bank and monetary donations from The Boulevard Club.
For Alain Levesque, one of the four chefs at PARC, the steady flow of income for the program is something that’s “needed fairly badly,” he said.
“I couldn’t have been happier to partner with Mealshare. It’s a really exciting opportunity for us,” Levesque said.
“Our community meal program is a sore spot for us (in terms of funding).”
According to the PARC chef, this added boost of income will provide his patrons with a healthier meal because many of them are not in the greatest health due to their personal socio-economic circumstances.
“If our ability to purchase is increased, we can substantially increase the quality and quantity of the meals that we serve,” Levesque said. “We can be more effective with the donated food we receive and we can round out the plate better.”
The community meal program is available seven days a week.
Breakfast usually consists of light meals, such as yogurt, fruit, cereal, oatmeal or bread pudding; and lunches served are pasta, stews or curries. According to Levesque the lunch meals try to be reflective of the culture groups Parkdale has in the community.
Choosing PARC as a local partner was “the right choice as far as social impact goes,” Juno said, because it is such a largely underfunded program that provides more than just meals. It is also a drop-in centre, provides an affordable housing option as well as outreach programs.
“His (Levesque) job is so difficult because he has no budget to create meals. If, in a month, 100 cans of tomato sauce and 80 potatoes were donated he has to make that work,” Juno said.
He added choosing a charity was difficult because there were a lot to choose from, which wasn’t a bad problem to have, he admitted.
“But we really wanted to support PARC because they needed it the most and they seemed like the perfect partner. PARC was the choice we needed to go with.”
Last year PARC served more than 70,000 meals and with the added boost of funding, Levesque can’t wait to start cooking even more new, nutritious meals for his patrons.
“We’ve been doing work at our end to fundraise for our community meal program and we will continue to do so. But to have someone reach out us, to be recommended, it’s been such a pleasant surprise for us,” Levesque said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The article is taken from Inside Toronto