Andrew Hall and Jeremy Bryant didn’t always appreciate their vegetables.
The cousins, who are six months apart in age and grew up together in Calgary, often pushed the plants around on their plates at the end of family dinners, refusing to eat them. But their grandmother had other plans. “My grandma would say her famous line: ‘Finish your food! There are starving kids in Africa. You should appreciate what you have,’” Hall, now living in Vancouver, recalls over the phone (Bryant is now based in Edmonton). “We didn’t really buy it at the time, but we eventually figured it out. That laid down those values for us really early.”
Fast-forward to adulthood, and the close cousins, both working corporate jobs, realized they wanted to do something with more of a positive impact. Inspired by the buy-one, give-one model made famous by the shoe brand Toms, Hall and Bryant wondered if they could implement a similar strategy with something even more crucial than footwear: food.
The fruits of their brainstorming, Mealshare, was born in July 2013 with the ambitious but worthy goal of ending youth hunger. The framework is simple: diners order a Mealshare dish at a participating restaurant across Canada, and the eatery gives some of the proceeds to Mealshare, who then works with partner charities (both locally and abroad) to fund and distribute the food to youths in need. Buy-one, give-one: easy and effective. How effective? Mealshare works with nearly 300 restaurants across the country, and to date has served over 1,200,000 meals to those less fortunate.
Adding to that impact is Mealshare’s second-annual Tonight for Tomorrow fundraiser, taking place on May 10, 2017 and during which participating restaurants in Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa will donate half of their entire food sales for the day to the organization. That money will then be matched by a private donor. It all contributes to the growth of Mealshare, allowing it to be able to feed more children more often. Involved restaurants in Vancouver include Brix & Mortar, Tuc Craft Kitchen, Pidgin, and Jamjar. BC Place and City Hall will glow orange, the charity’s signature colour, in support of the event.
Since those family dinners, Hall and Bryant have done a lot more than learn to eat their veggies. And one day, they will be the ones wagging their fingers at their grandchildren—although, Hall says, they hope it will be with a different message: “We want to tell them about how hunger used to be a problem for kids in the world, but isn’t anymore.”
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