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Everyday Hero: Mealshare on pace to serve 1 million meals to youth in need

Everyday Hero: Mealshare nears 1 million meals for youth in need
WATCH: A meal for a meal – it’s a simple concept developed by two cousins, who grew up in Calgary, to help others. Their organization Mealshare is now set to serve up its 1,000,000th meal this year, feeding youth who may otherwise go hungry. Reid Fiest reports.

CALGARY — When Jeremy Bryant and Andrew Hall were growing up in Calgary, many people told them they’d be happiest if they climbed the corporate ladder to a corner office.

But when Bryant landed his first job as an auditor in school, he started to question his professional path.

“If we look back in 30 years at this career, as just going in and crunching in excel, and wrecking people’s day, are we going to be happy?”

Hall agreed, saying there had to be more to life.

“We could kinda see our careers unfolding in front of us, so we wondered if that was the career we wanted to look back on, or find something completely different that would have a positive impact,” he said.

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That path led them, in part, to the stomach — an idea called Mealshare.

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The concept is to sell and serve a meal to someone in a restaurant and part of the money paid would feed someone who would otherwise go hungry.

“We provide 30,000-40,000 meals to people every month,” Hall said. “I think that works out to 70 meals an hour.”

It started in Calgary’s Blue Star Diner, where the co-founders approached owner Shayne Perrin with the concept.

“The nice thing about it is that it’s really simple. It’s a meal for a meal,” Perrin said. “People understand when they order than meal, they’re donating a meal.”

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Restaurants partner with Mealshare and identify certain dishes on their menus as Mealshare items.

What began as a local project, has grown to restaurants from coast to coast, and this fall will expand into the United States.

But the organization is quick to point out, much of the funds raised, stays local and benefits youth in some way.

Vancouver’s Kidsafe Project only partnered with Mealshare last fall and it’s executive director Gerhard Maynard says it’s been vital to their operations.

“They’ve donated over $13,000, which has provided nearly 11,000 meals to children and youth who are in our care.”

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By the end of 2016, Mealshare says it will have provide 1,000,000 meals, an impact, neither Hall or Bryant say they could have had in the corporate world.

“It’s not okay that people are hungry, it’s not okay some people didn’t have the same opportunities growing up, and we just wanted to do something that levels that a bit,” Hall said.

“Everyone told me I should be passionate about money, and they told me if I got a lot of money, then I’d be really happy,” Bryant added. “I learned for myself that wasn’t true.”

WHAT MAKES AN EVERYDAY HERO?

There are many people trying to make a difference who rarely receive the media attention they deserve. Everyday Hero is our attempt to provide better balance in our newscast. We profile Canadians who don’t go looking for attention, but deserve it. People who through their ideas, efforts and dedication are making a difference in the lives of others.

If you know of an Everyday Hero whose story we should tell, share the information with us by emailing viewers@globalnational.com