Clicktivism feels a bit like the bastard child of the social justice world — and critics even call it low-impact, generally self-serving, and a bit superfluous. But every once in awhile, clicking a button actually has the capacity to make a legitimate difference. Thanks to the ShareTheMeal app from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), you can use your smartphone to help feed a child, one 50-cent donation at a time.
Already, the app has garnered 81,000 new users and 600,000 shared meals since its November 12 launch, and seems well on its way to making a substantial contribution toward its goal of eradicating global hunger.
Currently, the beneficiaries of the 50-cent donations are Syrian refugee children living in Jordan. As part of WFP’s school meals program, these children receive the necessary and vital nutrition they need each day, and the UN plans to extend the program to a larger demographic as the app grows in popularity and user numbers. ShareTheMeal has proven incredibly effective in trial runs, with app users in Europe providing more than 1.7 million meals for children in Lesotho in the month of June alone.
“The simple act of sharing a meal is how people all over the world come together,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “This digital version of sharing a meal is a tangible way that Generation Zero Hunger can act to end hunger.”
Today, the WFP notes, 1 in 7 children around the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active life, and yet smartphone users outnumber hungry children by 20 to 1. As such, leveraging technology to fill this massive societal hole seems like an obvious solution, and the WFP claims that with enough participation, it may be possible to end world hunger within our lifetimes. And because ShareTheMeal encourages transparency in giving, users can follow progress within the app and directly track where their donations are going.
“People use their smartphones to buy books, groceries, and to pay their rent,” said Share The Meal founder Sebastian Stricker. “So why not use it as a means to help other people? The idea of ShareTheMeal is simple and that’s exactly why it works,” he continued. ” We can move fundraising into the 21st century. This is a tool to ‘crowdsolve’ global hunger.”