Food technology

Food tech startup helps fight food insecurity

A St. Louis-based food tech startup is working to fight hunger in the St. Louis area with its mobile app, GiftAMeal. Customers download the free app, take a photo of their meal and upload it. For each photo, GiftAMeal donates money to Operation Food Search.

Founder and CEO Andrew Glantz said the program is a way for restaurants and customers to give back, but restaurants have also benefited.

“Our restaurant partners have actually found that customers who use GiftAMeal return on average about 39% more frequently,” Glantz said. “And they tip 32% more than standard customers.”

So far, GiftAMeal has provided approximately 860,000 meals to people in need since 2015.

The City Foundry Food Hall is the latest group of restaurants to join the effort this month. Brian Schmitz, co-owner of Intergalactic Burgers, Subdivision Sandwich Co. and Good Day at the City Foundry, said the idea of ​​giving back to the community with a food selfie was appealing.

“The format of doing good work leveraging something that already exists that is beneficial and synergistic is sharing goodwill on many levels,” Schmitz said. “So all that kind of alignment really made sense.”

He partnered with GiftAMeal in 2020 when many restaurants were limited to takeout options. Schmitz said his customers still continue to give back by uploading photos of their meals from home.

“The willingness to show support for the restaurants they frequented and took care of themselves and you know small acts of kindness,” Schmitz said.

Four of City Foundry’s independent kitchens, including two of Schmitz and Sureste’s Mexican restaurants and Patty’s Cheesecakes, had already joined the program. The collaboration has yielded positive results, said Matthew Sorth, general manager of the City Foundry food hall. He said getting the rest of the restaurants involved was a no-brainer.

“People are already taking pictures of the beautiful dishes in our 16 restaurants,” Sorth said. “And it’s a way to have an immediate impact in our community. So it was a very natural choice. We have already built a diverse community of talented chefs in our food hall. So expanding this network to help get food directly into the hands of those in need is a natural step.

While the concept won’t completely end food hunger, Sorth said it’s a step in the right direction.

“That’s what we can do in our business to be able to fight food insecurity,” Sorth said. “I think this piece with GiftAMeal and other organizations also plays a big role.”

This partnership is expected to provide around 10,000 meals to people in need.

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