In 2015, during a lunch gathering between friends, the idea of providing a way to fight hunger suddenly became a real possibility. Four years later, with a click of a button, the GiftAMeal app has helped provide meals for more than two hundred thousand people in St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. 2019 offers a fresh batch of opportunity to grow beyond the Midwest plus a new set of challenges to overcome as every startup on the road to success often encounters. Founder and CEO, Andrew Glantz took some time out of his hectic schedule to answer a couple of questions about the future of GiftAMeal.
Cortex staff: GiftAMeal had a successful 2018. What’s in store for 2019?
Andrew: In 2019 we hope to provide over a hundred thousand more meals to those in need, vastly grow our restaurant base, and continue to learn how to provide the best experience to our users.
Cortex staff: How many agencies do GiftAMeal supports, and what has been the impact so far? Is the demand from organizations needing GiftAMeal increasing?
Andrew: GiftAMeal currently donates to three food banks, one in each city we are in (St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit). In St. Louis, we partner with Operation Food Search. Our donations to them help fund the distribution of food from their facility to over 300 local pantries. In Chicago, we work with Lakeview Pantry, and they distribute to three local pantries. And in Detroit, we work with Forgotten Harvest who distributes to over 50 local pantries. They could all always use more support to make an even bigger impact! Both in terms of distributing more food, and in terms of opening up the budget for nutritional education programs and support services for the hungry.
Cortex Staff: How has the restaurant community in and out of St. Louis welcomed and engaged with the GiftAMeal? Are you experiencing an increase in demand from restaurants?
Andrew: The restaurant community has really embraced GiftAMeal both in St. Louis and outside of St. Louis. In St. Louis, we have restaurants reaching out to us to join, and our current restaurants often make introductions to others in the industry. Outside of St. Louis, we’ve had restaurants reach out to say they’d like to join once we expand to their cities as well.
Cortex staff: What changes, if any, do we expect for 2019?
Andrew: Expect lots of positive improvements in 2019. We believe in constant listening, learning, and adapting based on feedback from our users and restaurants.
Cortex staff: What are the challenges, past or present, you would like to overcome this year?
Andrew: Hiring! We are looking to grow our team and are currently searching for top talent.
Cortex staff: Can you share how the use of GiftAMeal helps all parties involved fight hunger?
Andrew: Rich & Charlie’s has seen 24% increases in check size, 45% increases in visit frequency, and 14% increases in tip size on average from GiftAMeal customers, just from the socially conscious incentive of our app. Gerard Craft noted that his restaurants (Pastaria, Sardella, Brasserie, and Taste) had seen increases in loyalty as well. David Kirkland of Turn Restaurant pointed out that customers sometimes order an extra menu item just to take a really good picture on GiftAMeal!
Cortex staff: What’s your secret to recruiting an ever-growing number of businesses and organizations?
Andrew: We can show restaurants that we can improve their bottom line while also making a big impact in the community, at a relatively low price. The pitch is fairly straightforward, and we always invite them to talk to their friends in the industry in their evaluation of us.
Cortex staff: Why is GiftAMeal capable of eliminating hunger and how serious is food insecurity in St. Louis and abroad?
Andrew: GiftAMeal can play a key role in putting a dent in hunger both in St. Louis and nationwide as we grow. The issue of hunger is massive with over 40 million Americans facing food insecurity, meaning they do not know where they will find their next meal. In St. Louis, 1 in 6 children is food insecure. We hope that over the course of the next few years, GiftAMeal can cover the entirety of Operation Food Search’s food distribution budget in St. Louis, as well as be expanding nationally to do the same in other markets.
GiftAMeal is located at 4220 Duncan in the Cortex Innovation Community district.
The app is available via Google Play and App Store.
For more information visit: GiftAMeal
Photo credit: GiftAMeal media files