Nearly 1 billion people continue to suffer from chronic hunger globally, but smartphone users now outnumber hungry children by 20 to 1. A new smartphone app, ShareTheMeal, intends to tap into this opportunity by allowing users to donate US$0.50, the cost of feeding one child for one day. The app, a nonprofit arm of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), will launch globally on November 12, 2015.
The donations will fund existing WFP’s existing meal programs, utilizing the power of extensive partnerships. WFP uses 90 percent of funding for operations and buys more than 80 percent of its food from developing countries to sustain local economies. In Lesotho, where 40 percent of children are food insecure, WFP reaches 1,100 schools with two meals per day. On average, WFP provides food assistance to 80 million people annually.
A 14-week test launch in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland allowed more than 120,000 users to provide 1.7 million daily rations to hungry children around the world, and user ratings of the app were high. Google and Apple both featured ShareTheMeal as a promising new app.
“People use their smartphones to buy books, groceries, and to pay their rent. So why not use it as a means to help other people?” says Sebastian Stricker, Founder of ShareTheMeal. "The idea of ShareTheMeal is simple and that’s exactly why it works. We can move fundraising into the 21st century. This is a tool to ‘crowdsolve’ global hunger.”
After the global launch, ShareTheMeal intends to reach refugee children fleeing violence in Syria, where close to 6 million people currently require food assistance. During the 14-week test launch, ShareTheMeal set a target to reach 20,000 Syrian children in refugee camps in North Jordan and met 80 percent of the goal. Similar measurable targets will be set in the future to inspire users to make progress toward achievable goals, which will be visible through the app.
The launch was made possible by an innovations grant from WFP as well as donations from philanthropists and companies.