Organization Spotlight: MealShare
MealShare is a charitable organization that partners with restaurants, businesses, and local and international charities to feed hungry youth in Vancouver, throughout Canada, and worldwide. A charity rooted in strong partnerships, MealShare collaborates with solution-based programmes that are working to eliminate the root causes of the poverty cycle.
DP World Canada is proud to tell the stories of organizations like MealShare that are helping build healthier communities and a better world.
MealShare now partners with more than 450 restaurants throughout Canada to fight hunger. This is the story of humble beginnings, big dreams, and a lot of teamwork.
What is the mission behind MealShare?
“Our vision is to sit in our rocking chairs one day and tell our grandkids about how hunger used to be a problem,” says Andrew Hall, co-founder of the programme. “We probably can’t do that alone, but we want to make the biggest difference we can.”
MealShare began six years ago after Hall and his cousin left their corporate jobs, deciding they instead wanted to look back on their lives and be proud of the impact they made in the world. So, they asked themselves a big question: How can we form a charity that solves the issue of hunger, not just in Vancouver, but worldwide?
That began their focus on fighting youth hunger. Well-nourished youth are more likely to be more productive in school, therefore having better access to higher education and other opportunities later in life. Eliminate youth hunger and there’s a better chance of ending the poverty cycle altogether.
How the programme works in Vancouver, Canada, and worldwide
The initial idea was to start a local restaurant that gave one meal to a youth in need for every meal that sold, but there were flaws in the concept. It would mean the success of the programme rested on the success of the restaurant, and it would take most of the founders’ time just to run it.
The founders realized the impact could be greater if they pitched the one-for-one meal model to restaurants that were already established throughout Canada. The restaurants could select certain menu items to put the MealShare logo next to, and each time those meals would be purchased, a meal would be donated to a youth in need.
MealShare formed partnerships with four restaurants in select Canadian cities where there was a need and launched the MealShare programme in 2013.
When a meal is “donated” by a restaurant, it actually comes in the form of funds that are donated to MealShare. MealShare then transfers the funds to one of its partnering charities that provides the food to youth in a specific area. One of MealShare’s Vancouver partners is the Girls’ Clubs of South Coast BC.
Sourcing and dispensing the meals locally, through established organizations is more cost effective. In this way, MealShare is able to make each dollar translate to more meals for hungry children.
“We wouldn’t partner with a charity that’s just handing out meals on the side of the roads,” says Hall. “We want a charity that will actually invest in other programmes to help pull people out of poverty and break the cycle.”
Approximately half the meals are provided locally in Vancouver and throughout Canada while the other half are provided internationally. Wherever the meal ends up, MealShare is always partnered with a charity that is focused on solving the problem of hunger overall.
How can businesses and individuals partner with this charity?
You don’t have to own a restaurant to make an impact.
MealShare has set up donation programmes so individuals and other businesses not in the food industry can make monthly, annual, or one-time donations to fight youth hunger.
“We also have companies who sponsor our expansion into new communities,” Hall says. Prior to their launch in Winnipeg last year, they had five businesses come together and raise $5,000 each. Today, those businesses are known as the founding supporters of that city.
The one-for-one MealShare programme model focuses on a sustainable solution to end hunger and poverty cycles worldwide. If you want to get involved, you can become a partner or sponsor, donate, build awareness by spreading the word, or dine at participating restaurants throughout Canada and choose MealShare meals when you do.