Feed the Hungry

St. Louis Entrepreneurs Harness Power of Social Media to Feed the Hungry

GiftAMeal App Lets You Feed the Needy While Dining Out

St. Louis, MO/November 19, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – There’s no denying that social media has changed the way we interact.  Over the last decade, social media has become a key part of our culture. We’ve used it to reconnect with old friends and to stay connected to far flung family members.  Social media has become a vehicle for communication between consumers and product makers.  It’s been used to galvanize thousands over politics and to raise millions of dollars for relief agencies after catastrophes.  Natural disasters, like hurricanes garner international attention, and as a result, there’s an ensuing flood of donations to relief organizations, thanks, in part, to social media.  Two St. Louis entrepreneurs wanted to harness the power of social media to help cure a more chronic issue that doesn’t take over the headlines the ways hurricanes and earthquakes do: hunger in America.

According to the USDA, more than 42 million people in the United States are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know where their meals will come from day-to-day.  Nearly seven million of them are children. St. Louis entrepreneurs Aidan Folbe and Andrew Glantz created an app that helps feed the needy while helping local restaurants attract customers.  GiftAMeal lets users feed someone in need by simply taking a picture of their own meal at a participating restaurant and sharing it online—they don’t even need to make a donation.

Here’s how it works: Diners download the app for iPhone or Android through iTunes and the Google Play Store.  Then they visit a participating restaurant and use the app to snap a picture of the food or drinks they order and share it with friends.  When that happens, GiftAMeal makes a donation to a local food bank.  Users can also use the app to post their pictures and comments on social media like Facebook and Instagram, and GiftAMeal will make a second donation.  Each of the roughly 90 restaurants in the St. Louis area pays a monthly fee to participate.

Andrew Glantz says the idea for the app came about when he and co-founder Aidan Folbe were having a meal at a restaurant.  Glantz says the food was really good, but the restaurant wasn’t very busy.  So, he and Folbe thought up an app that would help participating restaurants spread the word about their great food and service.  “As the idea developed,” he said, “we added in a socially conscious component because we wanted to give back to the community.”  According to their website, GiftAMeal funds at least one meal each time someone uses the app—more than 92,000 meals so far—and they pay for the refrigeration, transportation, and labor costs to distribute the food to local food pantries.

While GiftAMeal began in St. Louis, it has not ended here.  In just over a year, it’s already spread to Chicago and Detroit.  When someone uses the app, they can choose where the donation goes.  Currently, that includes Operation Food Search in St. Louis, Lakeview Pantry in Chicago, and Forgotten Harvest in Detroit.  Glantz and Folbe say they plan to keep growing their business.  The pair says they hope to eventually have GiftAMeal partner restaurants nationwide, helping businesses all over the country grow their customer base and making an even bigger dent in the food insecurity crisis across America.


By Susan Smith-Harmon – published on STL.News by St. Louis Media, LLC

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