Meal sharing program becoming increasingly popular in Victoria

Meal sharing program becoming increasingly popular in Victoria

A new meal sharing program that helps provide meals to homeless people has exploded on the scene in Victoria.

A new meal sharing program that helps provide meals to homeless people has exploded on the scene in Victoria.

As part of the Mealshare program, which started in Alberta in 2013, when patrons order certain Mealshare-stamped menu items from participating restaurants, a meal is then provided to local or international organizations that Mealshare is partnered with.

“The diner who purchased it is not only providing a meal for themselves, but also for someone else in need,” said Derek Juno, a UVic grad and vice president of business development with the program.

He said the program is necessary step towards addressing systemic poverty in the country.

“We see meals as a way to incentivize people to get into the door and once they’re in the door, then they are exposed to all these other amazing resources such as job training, counselling, addiction recovery, housing.”

This year, they have partnered with Our Place Society, an inner city community centre that provides breakfast, lunch and dinner for people seven days a week.

Grant McKenzie, director of communications for the society, said the program has helped increase awareness around the programs they offer.

“It’s benefitted us immensely and not just in the revenue that Mealshare is generating, but also in awareness and letting the restaurants know that we exist and what we do and making that connection is really valuable,” said McKenzie, noting they’ve had several restaurants offer to serve lunch at the society.

Though the buy one, give one-style program is only in its second year, it has exploded in popularity with 22 participating restaurants in Victoria, up from only four restaurants in 2013.

Some of the participating restaurants include Tacofino, Floyd’s Diner, Foo, The Mint, The Clay Pigeon, Origin Bakery and Camille’s.

Origin Bakery is also one of the restaurants involved. When you buy any cake or multiplies of six of any muffin or cupcake, you are donating to the program.

“It’s a really easy program to be a part of. They keep it really simple. They’re really transparent about where the money is going and you know if you give them $1, they will feed someone with that,” said Marion Scott, co-owner of Origin.

“We also have had customers add on something when we tell them ‘hey, if you pick another muffin, you can donate to Mealshare’. Most of the time they will.”

According to Juno, the Mealshare program has provided more than 42,000 meals to people in Victoria.

“Victoria is such a passionate, giving community,” added Juno. “It’s a small city, but they’re keeping up with some of the big cities that we’re participating in.”

The program also operates in Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Halifax.

For a full list of participating restaurants, visit mealshare.ca.