A picture of your meal can feed the hungry

A startup company is giving people who dine out in Chicago the chance to help feed the hungry.

All you need is their new app and the camera on your cellphone to participate.

“If you take that picture in Chicago, it's going to be feeding someone in Chicago!” said Michael Kaushansky of 'GiftAMeal.'

If the connection between taking a picture and fighting hunger isn't at first apparent, then you probably haven't heard of a startup company called 'GiftA Meal.' It all began with its founders, Andrew Glantz and Aidan Folbe, dining out.

“They were at a restaurant, a small little Italian restaurant, and they noticed that not too many people were at this restaurant, even though it was incredible food, and they were wondering how they can kind of drive people into this restaurant, that really had a focus on community and giving back,” Kaushansky said.

Their idea? Tell customers in participating restaurants that if they take a picture of their meal using the 'GiftAMeal' app, then a meal will be donated through a local food pantry in Chicago, through the Lakeview Pantry.

“For us it's a win, win. I mean we get to partner with different restaurants and we benefit from the meals that we receive from them. So it was a no brainer for us,” said Ashley Friend of Lakeview Pantry.

Participating restaurants pay monthly membership fees to 'GiftAMeal,' which then donates a portion of those dollars to the food pantries. The restaurants benefit as the photos are shared on social media, and the food pantries benefit from donations. 

“They give us twelve and a half cents for every one of those pictures that are taken and that is one meal,” Friend said.

'GiftAMeal' began in St. Louis. and so far includes restaurants in Detroit and about 25 restaurants in Chicago.

“Our goal is, right now we are at about 100 restaurants, like I said, we really want to expand nationwide, and be able to provide millions of meals,” Kaushansky said.

'GiftAMeal' has already paid for about 14,000 meals through the Lakeview Pantry, and 62,000 meals in the three cities where it's up and running.

The Lakeview Pantry is the largest pantry in Chicago, distributing about 1.3 million meals every year.

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