Mealshare co-founder and former Colwood resident Derek Juno holds up a menu

Sharing a meal with someone less fortunate is easy

Restaurant charity program going strong after humble beginning

Finding a way to leverage the restaurant industry and help feed people in need was the challenge Derek Juno and his partners set for themselves when they created Mealshare.

Barely two years in, the idea has caught on like Happy Hour or two-for-one appies and continues to grow, as restaurants around the country sign up for the program as a way to become more socially conscious.

Mealshare now has approximately 250 eateries signed up – there’s 16 in Greater Victoria and three on the West Shore – and recently hit a milestone by providing its 500,000th meal.

“For a little idea that came out of Victoria, it’s pretty amazing to know we’ve provided half a million meals to people in need,” says Juno, a former Colwood resident who now serves as the organization’s vice-president of business development. “It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know we have so much support in so many of our cities.”

The idea is simple: diners visit a participating restaurant and choose from several designated menu items. One dollar from the sale of those items goes to Mealshare, which donates funds to social service groups offering meals to the less fortunate.

Victoria-area restaurants have proven to be big supporters of the program, Juno says, pointing to the nearly 83,000 meals provided. For the most part, funds raised in a specific community stay in that community and help service providers do what they do best. The soup kitchen at Our Place, for example, is a beneficiary of Mealshare donations.

That local connection helps restaurateurs feel like they’re making a difference, Juno says.

“One thing we’re starting to see in our second year, is that this is a program our restaurant partners have become really proud of,” he says. “It turns the restaurant into a social enterprise, not just a regular business.”

One of those community partners is Floyd’s Diner, which is engaged in Mealshare at its Langford and downtown Victoria locations.

Floyd’s operations manager Michelle Boyd calls the program and its founders “amazing” and appreciates the ease with which her customers can participate in the program.

“I can’t believe their ingeniousness and their social entrepreneurship,” she says of Juno and co-founders Andrew Hall and Jeremy Bryant. “I think that the way they designed it, it doesn’t lay the burden on the person when they’re paying for their meal. There’s not the pressure (to donate) like there is sometimes at the checkstand.”

Boyd says diners have given nothing but positive feedback on the program and are happy the popular restaurant is involved. “People are really excited about it, and they’re happy that we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Juno, who was back in Victoria recently to check in with their area restaurant partners, said Ottawa and Montreal are the group’s next target markets, having broken into Calgary and Edmonton in a big way and added a number of prairie towns to the roster.

Mealshare has some heavy hitters on board for its current promotional campaign, called Road to One Million. Former Dragon’s Den panellists Arlene Dickinson and Brett Wilson, hockey stars Hayley Wickenheiser and Andrew Ference and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson are among the celebrities who are using their star power on Twitter to help boost the numbers.

Having volunteered with area service providers numerous times, Juno enjoys seeing the impact a hot meal can have on someone.

“The meals are the handshake and they get people in the door. Once they get there, there are opportunities like counselling or job training. It’s great seeing these community members progress and make big changes in their lives.”

To find a restaurant near you or find more information, visit mealshare.ca or roadto1m.mealshare.ca.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colwood eyes upgrades to recreation area near Lookout Lake Dam

Upgrades to dam estimated to be complete before end of year

Victoria society purchases addiction recovery home after year of fundraising

Umbrella Society’s Foundation House is a second stage house for men in active recovery

Victoria dealer sells Batmobile replica at Arizona auction

Tim Quocksister sells Batmobile replica for $165,000 US at auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Eight people arrested on Pandora after enforcement order issued

Those living in homeless camps were given until May 20 to move indoors

When crisis hits: How West Shore RCMP have dealt with the pandemic

More front-line officers on road in mobile offices

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read