Calgary restaurants partner with Mealshare to feed the hungry

Clients at the Calgary Dop-In and Rehab Centre received a warm dinner on Thursday December 5 courtesy of some of the city’s most well-known restaurants and their customers.

Mealshare a recently launched non-profit organization partners with restaurants to donate money to charities that provide meals to those who need them most. The organization acts as a middle-man between diners and those in need operating on a “buy one give one” platform. Basically when someone dines in or takes out from one of the partner restaurants if they choose a menu item that features the Mealshare logo the restaurant donates $1 to Mealshare which collects the money and then gives it to a participating charity.

Co-founders Jeremy Bryant and Andrew Hall both 24 launched Mealshare in July 2013 in Calgary and Edmonton. The organization has now expanded to Vancouver and Victoria and is partnered with 30 restaurants in all four cities. The first two participating restaurants in Calgary were Dairy Lane Cafe and Blue Star Diner but recently nine more restaurants joined the initiative: River Cafe Brava Bistro The Fine Diner Open Range Big Fish Smuggler’s Inn Bolero Tango Bistro and Open Sesame.

“It’s just great seeing how much generosity and support there is in Calgary” says Bryant. “We’re encouraged by it.”

Bryant says Mealshare has intentionally partnered with restaurants that not only serve good grub but are also involved in the community. He adds that they hope one day all Canadian restaurants will take on this corporate responsibility and participate in the program.

Shannon Johnston marketing manager at both Big Fish and Open Range says participating in Mealshare fits directly with their restaurants’ core values of sustainability and giving back to the community. Johnston says the sister restaurants only buy ingredients within 100 kilometres of the restaurant whenever possible and support community fundraising efforts. She considers the program an added benefit for customers as well.

“Not only are they getting a great meal but they also know their dollars are going to good use” she says.

The funding raised through Mealshare is donated to local charities like The Drop-In which is the largest homeless shelter in Canada and serves about 3500 meals per day and Christian charities like the Children’s Hunger Fund an international organization that provides food aid.

Bryant says Mealshare has donated more than 10000 meals since its launch. He adds that it’s important to Mealshare that the charities they donate to are actively working to create greater change through programs such as job training.

Bryant and Hall are running Mealshare themselves and volunteering their time but Bryant says the goal is to continue growing and eventually employ a team of full-time salaried employees. Mealshare’s ultimate vision he adds is that every time someone treats themselves to a meal they can also treat someone without one.

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