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A give-back mobile app that turns food photos into meals for those in need has raised half a million dollars to grow its impact, the startup announced Thursday, noting the round is expected to keep its local growth plans cooking.
“This is helping fund our expansion efforts into KC as we look to hire in the area,” Andrew Glantz, founder and CEO of GiftAMeal, told Startland News — adding that the company already is hiring for a restaurant relationship manager role in Kansas City.
The premise of the St. Louis-based GiftAMeal app: each time a customer takes a photo of their order from a participating restaurant, GiftAMeal donates to a local food bank to provide a meal to someone in need. The program is funded by a monthly subscription paid by participating restaurants as a mix of marketing and giving back.
250 restaurants — from St. Louis coffee shops like Espresso Yourself Café to the 32-location fast food chain Lion’s Choice (which has eateries in Kansas City) — are currently involved and more than 650,000 meals have been provided to-date.
Click here to read more about GiftAMeal’s entry into the Kansas City market.
The newly-announced funding comes from a mix of new and returning angel investors, as well as a non-dilutive $100,000 Growth Grant from the Arch Grants organization in St. Louis, Glantz said.
GiftAMeal previously received a $50,000 grant from Arch Grants in 2018 in exchange for headquartering its business in St. Louis for at least one year. The Growth Grants Program was launched in 2021 to support high-performing Arch Grants portfolio companies as they grow and scale their businesses in the St. Louis region. Growth Grants funds must be matched by other investment funding and requires the startup to commit to maintaining and growing operations in St. Louis for at least two years.
“GiftAMeal’s growth speaks for itself,” said Emily Lohse-Busch, executive director of Arch Grants. “They’ve shown tremendous perseverance, making it through a pandemic that hit both restaurants and the food-insecure hard. The Arch Grants team and judges saw the potential for GiftAMeal to become a nationwide company and we are thrilled to continue to assist in their development with a Growth Grant.”
GiftAMeal’s funding also is expected to fuel aggressive hiring as the company continues to grow, from regional sales staff all the way to a newly-created chief growth officer position.
“Now that we’ve proven that our program can work in St. Louis for many different restaurants, I am excited to tackle the next stages of our journey as we expand into new cities, develop new sources of value for partner restaurants, and create partnerships with large companies across the restaurant industry,” Glantz said. “Ultimately, all of these will help us achieve our goal of providing millions of meals to those in need, putting a true dent in hunger in our communities.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.