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Andrew Hall: “It’s going to be a grind, but it’s worth it”

We’re excited about providing a large number of meals to youth in need. We’re now providing around 80,000 meals per month — close to 1,000,000 per year! But we’re even more excited that each of those meals is provided through a great charity that does more than just provide meals. Our partner charities also provide amazing solution-focused services […]

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We’re excited about providing a large number of meals to youth in need. We’re now providing around 80,000 meals per month — close to 1,000,000 per year!

But we’re even more excited that each of those meals is provided through a great charity that does more than just provide meals. Our partner charities also provide amazing solution-focused services like a safe place for kids to hang out before or after school or in some cases showers, beds, counseling, job training, and more. So, we believe that every meal we provide is also a brighter future and a chance to help break the cycle of poverty.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Hall from Mealshare.

Andrew is one of two Co-Founders of a non-profit social enterprise called Mealshare. Andrew is Mealshare’s swiss army knife. With a background in consulting, he keeps Mealshare running smoothly internally and ensures the brand is presented professionally while taking on a variety of other responsibilities.

Andrew grew up in Calgary, Alberta. He received his Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurship from the University of Victoria. He started Mealshare shortly after starting his career as a junior consultant with Deloitte. He’s passionate about travel and every sport under the sun.

Andrew has been recognized as one of 25 to watch from UVic’s Gustavson school of business, and in 2016’s Top 30 Under 30 in British Columbia. Mealshare has also been recognized as one of Canada’s top Social Enterprises by Techvibes, Airmiles, and Startup Canada


Thank you so much for doing this with us Andrew! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My Co-Founder, Jeremy, and I are cousins. When we were growing up, we’d always be at the same family dinners, and our Grandma always taught us about youth hunger by lecturing us to finish our vegetables — there were starving kids in Africa and we should be thankful to have that food. This happened year after year, birthday after birthday. We didn’t quite understand at the time, but it left us with some good strong values knowing that we were really fortunate just to have food on the table.

Fast forward about 15 years, and we were graduating university. We both got great jobs we were lucky to get, but couldn’t shake the feeling that we wanted to have more impact than making big businesses bigger. We wanted to make businesses better.

Now, we look forward to telling OUR grandkids about youth hunger someday, but telling them a different story; that youth hunger used to be a problem but isn’t anymore.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I think the most amazing thing has been the amount of support we’ve received for dedicating our careers to something bigger than ourselves. That’s meant getting awards pinned to our chests by the Governor-General, meeting Prince William and Justin Trudeau, and some other really cool experiences and honors and some neat stories. But mostly it’s been amazing to see all the people willing to lend a hand, whether it’s been for graphic design, our website team BigLittle, restaurants who have jumped on board and championed Mealshare, and so many more. We’d be absolutely nowhere with all the support for our little non-profit!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think the funniest thing is just the brash naiveté about launching the concept. If you look back at early documents and emails, we mention “doing a soft launch with 20–30 restaurants”. In reality, finding the first few restaurants to launch the program was a LOT harder than we expected. We ended up launching to “great fanfare” with a whopping 4 restaurants. But we got off the ground, and slowly grew from there. Once we had a bit of traction, finding restaurant partners became a lot easier.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

Of course, we’re excited about providing a large number of meals to youth in need. We’re now providing around 80,000 meals per month — close to 1,000,000 per year!

But we’re even more excited that each of those meals is provided through a great charity that does more than just provide meals. Our partner charities also provide amazing solution-focused services like a safe place for kids to hang out before or after school or in some cases showers, beds, counseling, job training, and more. So, we believe that every meal we provide is also a brighter future and a chance to help break the cycle of poverty.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?

One of our favorite full-circle stories is about Bianca: On her first day of classes at a new school when she arrived in Canada, 14-year-old Bianca was asked what she wanted for lunch.

That one simple question opened the door to success at school, and a relationship with one of Mealshare’s partner charities that continues to provide school lunches today. “I was so surprised and happy to know that I wouldn’t be hungry that day,” says Bianca, now 21.

Bianca’s old school serves many students whose families don’t have the resources to provide them with lunch.

Those kids, including Bianca, would have gone hungry if not for the generosity of donors like our restaurants. Bianca is now pursuing post-secondary education and is a regular volunteer at our partner charity.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

We’re realistic in knowing that we’ve only been in this industry for 6 years, and many professionals commit their lives to this work. So, we don’t feel like we’re in a position yet to dictate system-level change. We also know that we’re a piece in a big puzzle and that we can’t solve hunger issues alone.

I think what I’d say here is, “care”. If the community cares, if society cares, and votes with their dollar and says something about it, companies and governments will follow. If you look at the meatless protein industry right now, brands like Subway, McDonald’s, and A&W are all changing their menus in response to a demand for a more environmentally friendly and moral type of protein source in their food. If customers demand that brands support sustainable solutions and social causes, they’ll continue to do so. So support brands doing good work, and tell them you support them for that reason. We’re big believers in the positive power that capitalism can have if we aim it in the right direction.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Ability is having a vision and attracting people to support you in achieving it.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • It’s going to be a grind, but it’s worth it
  • Things that seem insurmountable or difficult to figure out now, will seem trivial and straightforward with hindsight.
  • Selecting the right people is critically important, so choose carefully and then treat them amazingly
  • Be a big fish in a small pond first.
  • Buy amazon stock 😉

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

At Mealshare we believe that if every restaurant meal took care of a meal that someone in need was lacking, world hunger would be solved tomorrow. We hope every restaurant joins the fight and together we can eradicate youth hunger completely. Once our youth are well fed, we’re one step closer to having kids educated and solving generational poverty.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men.

This has really rung true for me and for us at Mealshare. It goes along with Simon Sinek’s “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and speaks to all the support we mentioned earlier in the interview. By dreaming big, and picturing a world with zero youth hunger, THAT’S a dream people can get behind. That’s a dream that can move the hearts of men (and women) who have supported us! We’ve found that by dreaming big, starting with “why” and telling our story, we’ve been able to build a tremendous amount of support.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

We’d love to hang out with Jamie Oliver — we’re fighting the same fight hoping that kids are well-nourished, which means we’re teammates. Teammates should meet, right?!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

www.facebook.com/mealshareteam

Instagram.com/Mealshare

Twitter.com/mealshareteam

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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