“We always need funds,” says Shirley Gibson, treasurer of Virden Area Food Cupboard. So, when she received the information that the food cupboard was going to be the recipient from a new charity, it was… well, unexpected good news.
A partnership between the Calgary based charity Mealshare, and A&W will mean funds for the Food Cupboard in late March, says Gibson.
Mealshare Exec. Vice President Derek Juno says he doesn’t know how much that will be, just yet. The charity is thrilled to be partnering with A&W, the first chain restaurant to come on board.
The program of giving is based upon a certain meal, on a certain day. When a patron purchases the Cheddar Bacon Uncle Burger Combo on a Monday, that leverages the donation of funds for a meal.
The program began with a focus on feeding hungry youth. Canada has no universal breakfast program in schools, and Mealshare founders Andrew Hall and Jeremy Bryant felt drawn to provide for kids who are on the edge of ‘not enough’.
The recent deal was struck with A&W corporation and started in restaurants across Canada on Feb. 1. It’s so new that Virden’s A&W franchisee Tammy Ho was not sure how many Mealshare meals had been rung through until she checked. By Feb. 10, it was $135 worth.
As well as purchasing the Monday Mealshare, customers can make any purchase on any day a Mealshare purchase by adding a dollar when they pay.
Food Cupboard donations are sporadic. Gibson noted there was a recent donation of food last fall, and a donation box at the local Co-op grocery store means there’s usually enough non-perishable food available for the Bi-monthly Thursday hampers.
Last year’s Smile Cookie campaign yielded a $10,000 cash gift. She says that other businesses in the area, also make donations. “And then, [Mealshare] comes along with something else, out of the blue,” she says with surprise.
President of the Food Cupboard, Myrna Bisson and Gibson work with four small groups, taking turns putting food hampers together.
While soup, beans, and KD are staples, the food bank welcomes funds to buy bread, milk and meat.
“We work with whatever funds we have. We have basic stuff in the food hampers.” And the food bank workers take advantage of what has been donated. “If there’s a lot of pancake mix, then we might buy pancake syrup.”
The Virden Area Food Cupboard serves people from McAuley, Elkhorn, and Oak Lake as well as Virden. People phone ahead to request a hamper. People don’t know when they might need to call on the food cupboard. Gibson says this year, some clients are workers in the food industry, which has been hard hit with COVID closures.
The Food Cupboard team tries to be wise in what they provide. “We send out a survey, from time to time, to see if we are providing the right things.”
So, if you can’t get to A&W for #MealshareMondays you can make your meal a #Mealshare item. Any other day ask the server to “Make it a Mealshare” item and they will add $1 onto your bill.
In the spring of 2013, Mealshare founders Bryant and Hall were working for multinational consulting and accounting firms. They felt fortunate about their circumstances, but realized not everyone was as lucky.
Then they learned that eight million Canadians dine out every single day, while over one million youth are food insecure. They didn’t see this as a reason to feel guilty, but as an amazing opportunity. That’s when they had an idea.
What if those 8 million people could help all those youth? What if we could turn dining out into helping out? Mealshare is doing just that.
This ‘buy one give one’ charity claims to be the first of its kind in Canada and operates in cities of Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, and many, many more.
The movement began with a handful of independent restaurants and have served nearly 4 million meals, to date.
For more information go to https://mealshare.ca/en/