Mealshare teams up with A&W to fight youth hunger

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Mealshare and A&W Canada are teaming up to do what they can to help end youth hunger in Canada.

For every Mealshare item purchased at an A&W location, including franchises in Tillsonburg and Simcoe, a healthy meal will be provided to a youth in need.

The national partnership has a goal of sharing 1,250,000 meals annually.

Meals are provided through Mealshare’s network of more than 450 charity partners, including The Salvation Army in Tillsonburg and Simcoe.

Eighty per cent of Mealshare’s financial support stays in local communities, and 20 per cent goes to Save the Children, an international organization.

A&W will promote its ‘Mealshare Mondays,’ and one meal will be provided to a local youth when customers order a Cheddar Bacon Uncle Burger combo.

A&W customers can also ‘Make it a Mealshare’ item any day of the week by adding $1 to their order. Customers can participate in-restaurant, when available, as well as drive-thrus or using the mobile app.

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“We’re really, really excited for people to learn about this way in which to participate,” said Derek Juno, Executive Vice-President of Mealshare, which was founded in 2013 with partner restaurants in Alberta.

“Our two co-founders are actually cousins, and they’ve been best friends their whole lives,” said Juno. “Both were working at big consulting jobs, and they just weren’t feeling fulfilled making rich people richer. They wanted to do something to give back.”

Youth hunger was something they wanted to change.

“Most people don’t realize that Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a national school food program or that one in five kids in Canada are food insecure. Unless you’re in the school system, I think you don’t tend to hear about it too much.”

The Mealshare founders started by opening their own restaurants, and for every meal they sold, they provided a meal to youth. Mealshare and the organization have now expanded to 1,200-plus restaurants across the country with the A&W Canada partnership.

“We’ve been around for about eight years now and provided almost 4,000,000 meals to the program. Before COVID we had about 500 restaurant partners that were independent restaurants.”

The majority of those were in major cities across Canada, including Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton.

“Through this (A&W) program, we hope a lot of restaurants will learn about it and say, ‘Yeah, this is great, we want to jump on and support our own community. This is so simple, but can have a huge impact in our community.”

Or customers will learn about Mealshare and suggest their favourite restaurant join the program, he said.

“In eight years doing this, I find that restaurant owners and general managers, they want to help, they want to support their community.”

For more information, visit their website at Mealshare.ca.

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