Eating the World

Mealmatch: Local Organization Helping Fight World Hunger with Social Media App

Though no one can know the exact number of people who go hungry every day, one statistic estimates that 925 million people were hungry throughout the world in 2010, according to the the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

See also: - Kickstarter Campaign Asks for Money to Start "Freegan" Cafe -- Serving Food from Dumpsters - Good Food Finder: Good Food Allies Create a Database of Local Producers

Local entrepreneurs Dustin Tessendorf and Joseph Tuson wanted to do something to help and came up with the idea of Mealmatch, a social media-based organization that helps world hunger by donating a meal to someone in need every time a diner uses their app at a local restaurant.

The concept is user-friendly: Users download the app on their phones, and when they eat or drink and check in at a local restaurant that's signed up for the program, that restaurant will donate 30 cents (the average cost of a meal in Africa) to someone in need. Since the organization launched more than 40 different local restaurants have signed up.

If you're curious exactly how that money gets to where it's supposed to go, the company is more than happy to share. In fact, after you check in, the app will tell you exactly to which charity the money will be donated. On the Mealmatch website, Tussendorf says it's also easy to find more information about all of feeding projects with which they partner.

Currently, Mealmatch donates money to more than a dozen projects in Africa as well as two charities in Chandler.

Restaurants that partner with the organization include Chloe's Corner in Scottsdale, Jimmy and Joes in Chandler, and, in Tempe, Boulders on Broadway, Spokes on Southern, and The Munchies.

For restaurants and their owners, the organization offers a few benefits. Aside from getting good karma for raising money for charity, Mealmatch's app posts information to users' social media pages, which Tussendorf says is an "organic" form of advertising.

"There's just so much junk out there that people ignore on Facebook," he says. "But when you see charity, people actually care."

The app also includes a loyalty program based on "stamps" that can be shared with friends to create a social experience for diners. He says customers care more now than ever before about the companies to which they give their money. Organizations like Mealmatch can help businesses build good reputations with consumers.

"Business can no longer just get away with exploiting the world for money," he says.

To see the list of restaurants that use Mealmatch or to download the app, visit the Mealmatch website.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria