People are already taking photos of their food — why not donate to food banks at the same time, Andrew Glantz proposed.
“GiftAMeal is a free mobile app; each time someone takes a photo of their order from one of our partner restaurants, we make a donation to a local food bank to help give a meal to someone in need. If the user posts their photo on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, then we donate a second, third or fourth meal,” the CEO and founder of GiftAMeal explained.
Glantz founded GiftAMeal in 2015 while he was still a student at Washington University in St. Louis. There, he leaned heavily on his professors and peers to learn about what it takes to build a successful foundation for a startup, he shared.
“After graduating, we continued learning and growing from the St. Louis community, the Missouri Restaurant Association and all these other groups,” Glantz said. “It has been super beneficial for us as we continue to grow.”
GiftAMeal has grown to more than 240 partner restaurants and 40,000 application users. The team is currently made up of three full-time employees, three part-time employees and two interns. Through its growth, the app is expanding outside St. Louis and coming to Kansas City, Glantz shared.
“We’ve wanted to expand to Kansas City for a while now; it was really a matter of timing,” he shared. “We just launched this partnership with Lion’s Choice and their 32 locations. When we saw they had locations in Kansas City, we knew it was the right time to launch there.”
Lion’s Choice, a fast food company famous for its roast beef sandwiches, operates five restaurants across Kansas City — a starting point for GiftAMeal in KC, Glantz said.
“We’re really excited to build relationships with hopefully a lot of other Kansas City restaurants and build the same market we’ve done here in St. Louis,” he said. “… This will be the launching point for how we scale our startup and expand into other cities across the country.”
Restaurant owners in the Kansas City area can request information and reserve a special Early Adopter discount here.
GiftAMeal is partnering with Harvesters, The Community Food Network, a local organization that provides healthy groceries and household goods to more than 760 partner agencies throughout northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. In St. Louis, GiftAMeal is partnered with Operation Food Search.
So, who pays for the donations?
Restaurants that partner with GiftAMeal pay a $79 monthly subscription for a combination of marketing and giving back, Glantz explained.
“We’ve been able to see some really cool results from case studies that we’ve done with our partner restaurants,” he noted. “We found that customers who are using GiftAMeal are returning more frequently, spending more per check and tipping more than customers who are not using GiftAMeal. It is great to see the power of a socially conscious incentive, rather than a financial incentive like coupons and discounts.”
Click here to check out a 2021 case study conducted by GiftAMeal on Espresso Yourself Coffee & Café.
GiftAMeal is a for-profit social venture. On an average month, the platform is donating more than 25 percent of its revenue to the local food bank partners.
“We also don’t have a limit for the maximum amount that we donate,” he said. “So if more and more people take and share photos, then that percentage would go up as well.”
Glantz’s passion for fighting hunger dates back to teen years when the Los Angeles-native volunteered at Camp Harmony — a summer camp for underserved children.
“Through interacting with those children and hearing their stories, it was an issue that really touched my heart,” Glantz shared. “I felt very fortunate for the position I was in and felt that sense of obligation to give back.”
In Missouri, one in four children face hunger, Glantz added.
“Hunger prevents future opportunities for a lot of people,” he shared. “… In children, hunger can stunt childhood development and get them held back in school — leading to a lack of access to future opportunities.”
GiftAMeal has donated nearly 600,000 meals to those in need, Glantz said — noting he would love to see that number reach a million meals, 10 million meals and so on.
“When we hit half a million meals, I was trying to visualize in my head what that meant; it’s about 10,000 school buses full of children that all got a meal from GiftAMeal,” he said. “Hunger is not just a number, it’s affecting real people and real lives, so that visualization is definitely something that motivates me.”
GiftAMeal is available on the Apple Store and Google Play.