Let’s face it, we all love taking pictures of our food and sharing them on social media. Whether it’s because the food was pretty, cheap or simply delicious, it’s likely that at least one of your meals has made its way to your social media pages. What if sharing a picture of your meal could turn into actually sharing a meal with someone in need? That’s the question the founders of Feedie asked themselves.
Feedie is a new mobile app launched by the same people who created the Lunchbox Fund, an organization started in 2004 to help bring meals to hungry children in South Africa. Topaz Page Green, Co-Founder of the Lunchbox Fund, is from South Africa though she’s been living in New York for the last 12 years. She said that the organization was started in response to the 65 percent of children living below the poverty line in South Africa. “Nelson Mandela started a food program for children in schools,” Green said. “It reached around eight million children.” She added that while that program was a benefit, it left some kids out, something she couldn’t bear.
“The Lunchbox Fund was created to provide children with their only guaranteed meal of the day, and it incentivizes children to come to school,” she said. “That’s the reason we do this. It’s an intervention point and checks off other social issues than just hunger. Children who attend school, the longer they attend school, are at a lower risk of HIV, AIDS and teenage pregnancy.” The founders of the Lunchbox Fund were happy with the progress they were making, but wanted to do more. “We asked ourselves, ‘how do we grow faster?’,” Green said.
Their solution is Feedie, a mobile app that capitalizes on the desire to take pictures of food. “We wasted time applying for grants and knocking on doors,” Green said. “We needed to be innovative; what we do is extremely necessary and urgent. It was a matter of how do we do what we know works now.” Though the Lunchbox Fund was already feeding 5000 children a day, but their goal is to feed four million. After all, she asked, “Who wants to see a hungry child?”
To accomplish that, the Lunchbox Fund is asking restaurants to add themselves to the Feedie network. For one $500 donation a year, a restaurant will be included on the list of those supporting Feedie. Then, any time a customer takes a picture of their food, and uses the Feedie app to share it on their social media, 25 cents is removed from that restaurant’s donation and provides a meal for a child in South Africa. “People are taking pictures of their food and sharing them anyway, now we’ve added an incentive,” Green said.
Green said the people behind Feedie and the Lunchbox Fund are trying to make a significant change in how hunger looks. “This is something everyone can relate to; everyone can be a part of something,” Green said. Though the app doesn’t officially launch until October 19, the reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s been really unbelievable,” Green said. “People’s imagination and compassion have been sparked.” She also extends a challenge to people to get on board and take part in Feedie, whether it’s by downloading the app or encouraging their favorite local restaurant to become part of the Feedie collective. “It’s a win-win. They’re taking pictures and feeding children.”