Going out to eat is not usually considered philanthropic, until now.
Thanks to a new organization, eating at a restaurant can result in a meal being given to someone in need.
University of Victoria business grads Derek Juno and Andrew Hall created Mealshare with friend Jeremy Bryant.
“Mealshare is a buy one give one hunger relief program that takes place in restaurants,” said Juno.
After seeing how well Toms Shoes was doing with their buy a pair of shoes, give a pair of shoes campaign, Hall thought of how he could apply that concept to food. This resulted in the creation of Mealshare in July 2013.
More than 140 restaurants across eight major cities and over 30 small communities in Canada have Mealshare items on their menus.
For every Mealshare item that is ordered, $1 is given to the Mealshare organization, with at least 70 cents of each dollar going towards local and international charities. To make it simple, Juno said for every meal bought, one meal is shared with someone in need.
“Here in Victoria, we work with Our Place, and then our international charity partner is Save the Children,” said Juno. “So half our meals stay locally in Victoria and half go internationally.”
Despite only launching the program under a year and a half ago, Mealshare has expanded rapidly. On Nov. 3, all 62 Original Joe’s locations came on board as the first restaurant chain to support Mealshare.
Juno credits their success to the simplicity of the program.
In Greater Victoria, 19 restaurants have Mealshare items on their menus. So far, more than 22,480 meals have been shared from those restaurants alone locally and internationally.
“We wanted to make it as easy as possible,” Juno said. “People don’t have to pay any extra money; it’s built into the price, you don’t have to do anything extra. It just works.”
Juno said their biggest accomplishment has been being able to help communities.
“We’ve been able to provide over 130,000 meals to people in need just by getting others to eat food.”
Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place, said Mealshare is a great way to not only raise money for Our Place, but also to raise awareness.
“It’s a simple, easy way to contribute to feeding the most vulnerable in Victoria,” McKenzie said. “Every donation helps.”
Since the start of the program, Mealshare has enabled Our Place to serve 7,000 more meals. Our Place currently serves 2,000 meals a day.
The Mealshare team won the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award for community involvement last month, and they have also been nominated for a B.C. Small Business Award.
Over the next few years, Juno said he hopes to expand Mealshare across Canada into even more communities and restaurants.
“We’d really love to change the face of the hospitality industry in Canada.”
For a full list of participating restaurants in Victoria, go to mealshare.ca.