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Feedie: Solving malnutrition with foodie photos

Tech Page One

feedieMany of us take photos of our dinners and desserts and post them on social media, with some artistically inclined foodies turning the idiosyncrasy into an art form on Instagram.

Whether the motive for documenting your lunch is simply to make your friends jealous or to revel in the beauty of all that is good and gourmet, the shutterbug epicures of the world can now contribute to a more meaningful cause with every photo they post.

A simple philanthropic app called Feedie, which has been endorsed by master chefs Jamie Oliver and Mario Batali, is a creative new way that people can use social media to fund social change. While visiting participating restaurants, users can photograph their meals using the Feedie app on their mobile phones, apply filters  to make the food look its best, and then upload the photo for all to see.

In return, the restaurant that provided the photo-worthy food gets free online promotion. For every photo posted, the restaurant donates 25 cents to the Lunchbox Fund, which then converts that money into a nutritious daily meal for one disadvantaged schoolchild in South Africa.

Feedie also enables users to share their favorite restaurants with other “feedies” and to post their food-photography masterpieces to even bigger audiences on Facebook and Twitter. That increase the “social proof” for participating restaurants and encourages others to download Feedie and contribute to the cause.

It couldn’t be simpler.

As of Oct. 10, users of the Feedie app and its sponsors have contributed a total of 12,003,012 meals to South Africa’s at-risk youth, many of whom live in indigent communities or have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. The increasingly popular campaign has received support from a number of socially conscious celebrities in New York, including Liv Tyler, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, Salmon Rushdie and Michael Stipe, and has even enlisted the world-changing services of retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who signed on as the official patron of the Lunchbox Fund.

“It is our moral obligation to give every child the very best education possible,” said Archbishop Tutu before Feedie’s official launch late last year. “In order to learn, children need to be nourished. The Lunchbox Fund ensures that each child is equipped to embrace the future and change it for the better.”

Founded in 2005 by South African model and entrepreneur Topaz Page-Green, the Lunchbox Fund exists to “foster education through nutrition” in a land where 65 percent of the population lives in poverty. By identifying worthy South African schools directly, or partnering with locally based, in-community nongovernmental organizations to evaluate potential prospects, the Lunchbox Fund ensures that its resources deliver food directly to the kids who need help the most. Feedie is by far the Lunchbox’s most successful fundraising project yet, and with participating restaurants now spanning the globe — from Los Angeles to London to Johannesburg and Dubai, United Arab Emirates — the innovative campaign is only going to grow with every gourmet foodie photo you take.


Tom Huston

Tom Huston

Tom Huston is a San Francisco–based journalist whose work explores the cultural implications of technology, science, and philosophy.

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