Two summers ago, a couple of college interns hunched over their Los Angeles meals. The food was excellent, but the restaurant was unheralded and nearly empty. The two students, Andrew Glantz of Washington University in St. Louis and Aidan Folbe of Dartmouth College, hatched their app idea then and there.
GiftAMeal, their ensuing creation, uses millennials’ love of doing good and taking pictures of their food to bring publicity to these hidden gems. The model is simple: Users take a photo of their food at one of the partnering restaurants and GiftAMeal donates a meal to charity. Posting the photo to Instagram or Facebook donates another meal, as does recommending the restaurant to a friend who subsequently eats at the restaurant. This app is a great way for users to discover restaurants and help their communities while doing something that they would be doing anyway.
So far, GiftAMeal has been a massive success. It was named a Top 3 Student Startup in the US at South by Southwest and won the People’s Choice Award in the Mobiley’s nationwide competition for most innovative new mobile app. It has more than 100 partners in the Greater St. Louis and Chicago areas, and is rapidly adding partner restaurants to its ranks.
From here, GiftAMeal, formerly FoodShare, wants to expand into New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. The hope, Aidan Folbe said, is that “wherever a person lives, he or she has the ability to help their community by dining at local restaurants and providing a meal to someone in need.”