This year, The Shorty Awards, an awards program that recognizes the best of social media, expanded their reach to include Shorty Social Good awards. The Shorty Social Good awards honor initiatives, projects or programs designed to combat lack of food or shelter. ShareTheMeal, a smartphone app, was among this year’s winners in the Mobile Campaign, Poverty & Hunger and nonprofit categories. The app shows us how to fight global hunger by reaching donors through smartphones and social media sharing.
Fighting Global Hunger with ShareTheMeal App
According to the Food Aid Foundation, approximately 795 million people around the world don’t have enough food to live a productive lifestyle. Beyond this, lack of proper nutrition is life-threatening for children worldwide.
Malnutrition is responsible for 45 percent of deaths for children under the age of five. Put more simply, around 3.1 million children every year die from poor nutrition. However, it costs as little as $0.50 to feed a child for an entire day. The ShareTheMeal app fights global hunger by focusing on microdonations and empowering users to donate from anywhere using their smartphones.
As an innovative part of the World Food Programme, ShareTheMeal mobilizes users to give through social media. Starting with donations of just $0.50, users can fund a child’s meals for an entire day. When someone donates, The United Nations’ World Food Program, in turn, supplies the meals to hungry children.
The food assistance provided varies according to the situation in the donor’s choice country. While children in more stable countries may receive school meals, children in high-risk situations may receive staple foods, designed to fortify basic nutrition. Donors may also opt to join The Table, a monthly giving club that receives regular updates and focused stories on global hunger.
Managers of the World Food Programme, Sebastian Stricker and Bernhard Kowatsch, developed the app in 2014. Though it began as an independent startup, it quickly earned the backing of the World Food Programme.
The founders wanted to expand the demographic of donors for programs fighting global hunger. They focused on social media and smartphone technology since they saw great potential for growth among millennial donors.
During its first trial run, the app earned nearly $850,000 to fight hunger in Lesotho. This successful trial run lead to a global launch focused on feeding Syrian refugee children in Jordan. With that initiative, ShareTheMeal fed 20,000 refugee children for a year.
Since then, the app has grown tremendously. Now, there are more than 1.1 million users worldwide and the app fights global hunger in various developing countries. According to ShareTheMeal’s data, nearly a third of their users are millennials, so the app has reached its target demographic.
Making Donations Easy and Personal
ShareTheMeal has innovated the World Food Programme’s donations, by making donations easy and personal. Each user can choose where to direct their donation by swiping through pictures of individual children in need of meals. These pictures give the donations a personal character, backed by information about the status of global hunger in that country.
The app also provides a constant tally of the total meals shared so far which allow donors to see the app’s progress. As of now, users have shared over 26 billion meals through the app and the number is constantly growing.
Beyond merely working through smartphones, the ShareTheMeal app fights global hunger via social media. Individuals can mobilize their friends and family through social media platforms, such as Facebook, by creating teams. These teams invite others to donate together and track their progress as a group.
Finally, the app also offers an innovative tool called Camera Giving. This feature capitalizes on food photos shared on Instagram and similar platforms. By taking a photo of their meal and donating through ShareTheMeal, users gain access to a #ShareTheMeal filter which they can use to publicize their food photo as well as their donation to ShareTheMeal on social media. With tags like “this picture fed a hungry child,” ShareTheMeal not only gains publicity through the Camera Giving feature but also it turns the food photo trend into a vehicle for positive change.
Moving Forward: How to Fight Global Hunger with Technology
In today’s technology-driven world, there are 20 times more people with smartphones than children suffering from hunger. Wondering how to fight global hunger with technology? The ShareTheMeal app fights global hunger by connecting lots of people to the problem.
Anyone around the world with a phone, iOS or Android, can download the app in nine different languages with donations payable in 27 different currencies. With the mere tap of a button, users are connected to global hunger from anywhere and at any moment. ShareTheMeal is turning social media into social good.
– Morgan Harden