By: Michelle Poirier

Mealshare, a social enterprise that connects local restaurants with local charities, has partnered with A&W Canada to provide meals to youth struggling with hunger.

The partnership started on February 1, and will run indefinitely, Joe Kotze, Toronto Community Leader for Mealshare, said.

All A&W locations across Canada are participating, and 80 per cent of the money raised through the Keswick location will support the St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club, which is an after-school program run through Lake Simcoe Public School.

The other 20 per cent raised will go toward Save the Children.

Mr. Kotze said they are hoping to provide over 1,000 meals through the Keswick location in 2021.

To participate, customers can order a Cheddar Bacon Uncle Burger Combo from A&W on “Mealshare Mondays,” or they can “Make it a Mealshare” by adding $1.00 to their order the rest of the week, which will provide one meal to a youth in need.

Mealshare has provided over 3.8 million meals to Canadian youth since they started with their buy-one-give-one model, where Canadians purchase a Mealshare item from participating restaurants, and one meal is donated to a child.

“Local franchisees from coast to coast are excited to be a part of this program because they’ve seen first-hand the needs in their communities and how these programs can provide immediate benefit and support,” said Susan Senecal, Chief Executive Officer at A&W Canada, in a media release.

Mr. Kotze said that COVID-19 has significantly affected Mealshare, as many of the restaurants they partner with have been closed permanently or temporarily due to the pandemic.

“A&W was kind of a lifesaver for us, they have been an industry leader when it comes to green initiatives, like reusable straws and Beyond Meat Burgers, and so, the partnership is actually something we’ve been working on with them for a couple of years,” he said.

They are hopeful they will now be able to provide more meals than ever this year as this is their largest partnership, he said.

“One of the things that I think that is really special about this partnership is, a lot of the expansion we are seeing is actually going to be in small communities. This now means that we are in over 400 communities in Canada,” he said.

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