What Does It Take To End Global Hunger?
New app lets you easily donate meals to children in need for 40 cents!
There are nowadays so many new start-ups, some are really great, some are pretty useless, some guys think, they can make easy money while asleep ….. but this fantastic non-profit-start-up SHARE THE MEAL APP idea is the BEST I have ever come across. I knew, when I heard about this fantastic idea, set off by two German guys, I had to spread the word.
There are in the world twenty times more smartphone users than malnourished children. It is from this observation that a Berlin UN team has designed the app. The principle is just a simple – “push” on one’s smartphone to enable the United Nations to feed a child for one day. Each donation of 40 cents goes directly to the World Food Program.
« Once you’ve downloaded the app, it takes 30 seconds to register, and then you can press the button when you want. If you’re at the table, for example, simply press… A child will receive food. These 40 cents will allow feeding a child for a whole day, » explains Sebastian Stricker founder of “share the meal” and creator of the application.
The app, launched in July in German-speaking countries, has already 120,000 users. It allowed serving 1.8 million meals in four months. For now, the funds collected are paid to the World Food Program and they have benefited the children of Lesotho, one of the poorest countries in Africa. Besides, « Share the meal » also intends to take advantage of the migration crisis in Europe to raise awareness. The World Food Program plans to use donations to help Syrian children.
Stricker said the current campaign for Syrian refugee children focuses on school meals because that has proven effective in breaking the cycle of hunger. It also helps increase access to education. The campaign also raises awareness in the developing world, showing that 50 cents can make a huge impact on a child’s life.
The ShareTheMeal app was developed by Sebastian Stricker and Bernhard Kowatsch in April 2014 as part of the WFP Innovation Accelerator, which looks at various ideas, projects and initiatives that can accelerate progress toward reducing hunger. They conducted a successful test launch for the app in June 2015, with more than 120,000 users in Germany, Austria and Switzerland providing more than 1.7 million meals for Lesotho schoolchildren in need.
That’s why they turned to smartphones – around the world, smartphone users outnumber hungry children by 20 to 1, according to the WFP. But it was important to keep the app as simple to use as possible, Stricker said. Users will open the app to find a streamlined map with the current campaign country, and a big donation button front and center.
- How and when did you come up with this idea of using smartphones to fight hunger?
Working for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) I am convinced, that a smartphone app is a perfect opportunity to engage more people worldwide in ending hunger. The potential is huge since smartphone users outnumber hungry children 20 to one.
- I saw in the app that right now the ShareTheMeal (STM) is raising funds to ‘Supporting Syrian Refugees’, will you keep updating the crises zones and target locations according to ground situations to tackle priorities?
WFP’s Syria operation is one of the largest and most complex in the world. WFP must raise US$25 million each week to meet the basic food needs of people affected by the conflict. STM provides a unique means for people around the globe to engage with WFP. In the future, smartphone users will be able to use the app to contribute to additional WFP operations around the world – wherever our help is needed most.
- Is STM planning for crowdfunding in other domains or sectors like healthcare, education too?
STM is WFP’s first awareness-raising app. Free to download; the app is a pioneering way for people to join our efforts in creating a world with zero hunger. This is what we are aiming for.
- When donations are going for a major cause, especially through a UN forum, don’t you think the taxation issues could be resolved through a consensus from all UN members at least?
That’s an interesting aspect but not on STM’s agenda currently.
- When paying quickly is the idea behind the app, don’t you want to put in place more payment options like Google Play credit or something?
Currently, we offer payments via credit card and Paypal.
- Can you be more specific about ‘transparency’ in amount going to the cause? I’m sure the app users would more likely be interested and convinced to make more donations if they know where and how their money is going.
The community can follow the progress in the app and see how many meals have been shared. We cannot match individual gifts to individual children but are working on solutions to provide more direct feedback. However, we want to ensure this doesn’t affect our operation.
- What is the time frame you have decided or have projected to tackle or stabilise the hunger problem?
By using STM people are joining a community that firmly believes that zero hunger is achievable within our lifetime.
- How did you come up with number-of-meals-to-one-child metric as opposed to number-of-children-covered-in-one-donation basket? Don’t you think the latter is more accomplishing from a donor’s point of view?
Our users especially like the fact that through their donation they are supporting a child for a day. STM is a way for WFP to engage a new generation of individuals in our mission and our work. The app also makes donating more social — many users in the app decide to connect their friends through Facebook and Twitter.
Postface: I am not promoting or earning anything in writing about this! This project is so worth spreading and promoting globally – it takes only very few pennies to help so many children in need. Right on the first day of the New year, thinking about all the money blown up in the air by fireworks last night all around the world – how easy is it to do something really good to make this world a better place!