Update 3/31/2020 – GiftAMeal has raised $20,000 for COVID-19 hunger relief.
GiftAMeal is a St. Louis startup founded by Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17. The following is a press release from the organization.
GiftAMeal, a St. Louis based mobile app, is stepping up in the face of the COVID-19 crisis that has hit our community so hard. Today [March 18], GiftAMeal announced an ambitious five-point plan to provide relief to struggling restaurants and the most at-risk segments of our society.
GiftAMeal is a mobile app that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo in a partner restaurant. Just two weeks ago, they announced they had reached 200 partner restaurants, with 400,000 meals provided to those in need.
Founder & CEO of GiftAMeal, Andrew Glantz, explained, “A majority of the community members supported through GiftAMeal are children and the elderly. Schools are closing, and children relying on meals normally provided are facing a new challenge as social services scramble to readjust. At the same time, older community members, the most at-risk population for COVID-19, need our support now more than ever.”
Glantz continued, “Just as the community is struggling, so are many restaurants in the face of public health guidelines designed to contain the spread of this virus. Employees depend on their jobs to pay bills and make rent, and our partners are doing their best to mitigate the effects of this crisis on their staff. But they cannot do it without the support of the public.”
Seeking to assist both local restaurants and those at-risk in the community, Glantz announced the following plan:
Donation program available for delivery/pickup/offsite customers
With the mandated closing this week of dining rooms across the bistate area, Glantz’s team quickly devised a big change to their program that was previously only available to in-restaurant customers at partnering locations.
“We just launched an update to the GiftAMeal app that will temporarily allow users to take pictures off-site to donate meals for takeout, delivery, and gift card purchases. We will do this by lifting the location requirement of needing to be at a partner restaurant when you take the photo and we will move to manual verification. PLEASE support our local partner restaurants that are struggling during this difficult time.” – Glantz
Immediate financial support of hunger relief agencies – $5,000 matching challenge
“Having spoken to Operation Food Search about their needs, we will be making our donations for the next few months early to provide immediate funding to get food to those facing hunger. We may be a small startup with limited means but we’re launching a campaign to match donations, up to $5,000, for our food bank partner. If you would like to contribute, click here: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/GiftAMealMatch.” – Glantz
Publicity for restaurants undergoing fast changes
With hundreds of restaurants forced to quickly find new avenues to pay their staff, Glantz is keeping the app’s 35,000+ loyal restaurant customers aware of all avenues to support their favorite restaurants:
“We will keep you up-to-date on the latest with our partner restaurants on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Many are expanding take-out and delivery programs to keep serving the community and are implementing extremely thorough health precautions to keep us all safe.” – Glantz
Direct coordination of food donations from restaurants
“We are working to coordinate food donations with Operation Food Search. If you know of any restaurant that has a surplus that is interested in donating food to the community, please let me know or have them contact Jack Baran of OFS directly at email@example.com. It’s tax-deductible too!” – Glantz
Program cost relief for struggling restaurants
In a message to restaurants (who normally pay $49-$149/month to fund the program costs and donations), Glantz extended an offer to self-fund the program for restaurants unable to contribute in the months of March and April so that food donations and restaurant customers could continue to flow at a time when they are most needed. When asked how he came to that decision, he explained,
“We are a small startup with limited means, but this is a time where we can shine the brightest. It’s important to me that our donations continue to flow to hunger relief organizations, and I know that the visibility of restaurants on our platform can have a big impact on cash-flow for these local businesses. I’ve always been struck by the generosity and love of community that our partner restaurant operators have shown, and even if it’s a drop in the bucket, I am going to help however I can.”
The response by the community has been overwhelmingly positive and grateful. Kristen Wild, Executive Director of Operation Food Search, commented on GiftAMeal’s fast and community-centered response:
“We are so very grateful to GiftAMeal for its innovative approach to providing more people with access to healthy food. Socially-conscious businesses like this are changing the way people approach giving, and the generous support of GiftAMeal is making an impact in our community every day.”
The free GiftAMeal app is available on iPhone and Android devices – giftameal.com/download
If you need help during this time, please visit www.operationfoodsearch.org/emergency-response-2020.
Check out www.giftameal.com for more information.