Nowadays people can do almost anything with a smartphone: order groceries, plan a vacation or pay for mass transit. There are even apps that feed the hungry around the world. About one in nine people do not have enough to eat, but the following smartphone apps are changing that, one meal at a time.
Here are three apps that feed the hungry:
Nigerian entrepreneur Oscar Ekponimo developed this mobile app to put discounted, expiring food in the hands of people who desperately need it. The organization currently operates in four locations in recession-stricken Nigeria, with the help of 20 supermarket partners. Here is how it works: Families on tight budgets sign up for a free account; they search for products set to expire in as little as a week to more than a few months. Users choose whatever cereals, grains, drinks, cans and packaged goods they want. Then they pay online and pick up their goods at participating stores. Some products are as much as 70% off original prices, which makes it easier for impoverished people to feed themselves and their families. Exact numbers of the app’s impact are unavailable at this point, as the site has yet to go public. But, in a three-month pilot, the company had 3,000 daily hits.
- Pocket Rice
With this free mobile app, users earn virtual grains of rice each time they answer a trivia question correctly. The virtual rice accumulates like a point system. But unlike regular trivia games, Pocket Rice’s points become a valuable food source for people in need. When users “donate” their earned rice, co-founder James Downing buys real rice. In-app advertising pays for the rice, so users can play trivia while helping solve world hunger — all for free. The rice goes to targeted areas through the company’s partners, agencies like the United Nations World Food Programme, World Vision and now The Lasallian Foundation. According to in-app text, Pocket Rice’s current project focuses on children in Sri Lanka. The goal is to reduce child mortality and increase babies’ birth weights. Trivia users have earned more than 324 million grains of rice and fed 16,000 people since Pocket Rice’s start in 2013. Users of the app allowed Downing to purchase around 3,500 pounds of rice in 2016 alone.
- Share the Meal
The World Food Programme spearheaded Share the Meal, which lets any smartphone owner feed a child with spare change. People all over the world can download the app for free and start saving lives with donations as small as 50 cents. More than just throwing money at a cause, the app has a tool that lets people track their donations. Users can choose where they want to share a meal, learn about the children the Programme helps and follow their donation’s impact. Users have provided for more than 14 million meals since Share the Meal’s launch in 2015. The meals feed school children and refugees in places such as Haiti, Yemen and Lebanon.
Whether it is the invention of the telegram or the use of cell phone apps, technology has always made the world seem smaller. Today, three apps that feed the hungry are continuing that tradition. Chowberry is bridging the gap between Nigerians in need and retailers willing to help, Pocket Rice is turning phone users’ love of trivia into life-saving food and Share the Meal is making it easy for charitable people to feed children around the world.
– Kristen Reesor