A&W partners with Mealshare program to fight youth hunger locally and internationally

All restaurants, including fast food, will be required to collect proof of vaccine or negative test from diners. File photo.

Canadian not-for-profit Mealshare has partnered with all A&W locations across the country, a move that will expand their charitable contributions to other local communicates.

Mealshare started up in 2013 and partners with restaurants to raise money for local charities that provide meals for youth.

Mona Pinder, community leader for Calgary and Saskatchewan, said the program works in a buy-one-give-one format. Partner restaurants have a designated Mealshare item on their menu and every time a customer orders that item, $1 is donated to Mealshare.

“That is enough to provide a meal to a youth in need either locally or internationally,” Pinder said.

The meal is different from the restaurant item. Pinder used the example that in Calgary, partner restaurants include steakhouses and donut shops.

“It wouldn’t be very fair if one kid gets a T-bone steak and one kid gets a donut,” Pinder explained.

After a Mealshare item is purchased, the monetary donation is given to partner charities in local communities to supply food to youth in need.

For the A&W partnership, all 1,000 locations across the country are participating. This includes all 50 locations in Saskatchewan.

Every Monday will be deemed ‘Mealshare Mondays’ at A&W where each Cheddar Bacon Uncle Burger combo purchased will donate one meal to Mealshare programs in that community. A ‘Make it a Mealshare’ program will also be running, meaning customers can add a $1 donation to their meal if they are ordering on another day of the week or would like to order a different item.

As a restaurant charity operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mealshare has lost a lot of partner restaurants who are struggling with finances.

“We were really at a crossroads about how to continue supporting the charities that we already had,” Pinder said.

This partnership with A&W is significant for Mealshare as it allows them to expand their contributions to other communities.

Pinder explained that typically Mealshare worked in larger centres but now that A&W is involved, Mealshare has added 300 new charities from smaller communities.

“Now we can support (youth) truly across Canada, not just in big centres across Canada,” Pinder said.

Mealshare will now be included in communities such as Humboldt, Meadow Lake, Kindersley, Melfort, Nipawin, and Tisdale.

Prince Albert was a part of Mealshare’s pilot program in 2019. The pilot ran just over a month in November and saw 45,000 meals shared across Saskatchewan, said Pinder.

The ongoing program with A&W kicked off on Monday. For Prince Albert, Mealshare has partnered with Breakfast Clubs of Canada that provide breakfast programs to certain schools in the city.

Pinder encourages other restaurants, whether they be small and local businesses or big franchises to join the Mealshare program. Adding more restaurants is a simple task as Mealshare already has existing partner charities in many communities.

“If there are local restaurants that are interested in joining we would be happy to welcome them aboard,” Pinder said.