At a Rustandy Center Open Impact workshop, Evening MBA students Ashray Reddy, Connor Blankenship, and Rebekah Krikke found their passion.
During an exercise on sustainability, the three realized that their shared values and skills were a good match for tackling one of Chicago's most pressing issues: food insecurity. Soon after, Meaningfull Meals was born. Reddy says the company takes a dual approach to fighting hunger.
First, they’re aiming to raise awareness of the scope of the issue here in Chicago. Second, they’re working to partner with area restaurants who pledge to donate a percentage of all “Meaningfull Meal”-certified items on their menus to organizations dedicated to stamping out hunger. Their company will facilitate this process and enable diners to track their donation to see how and where it reaches those in need. Their platform has ambitious goals: to serve the equivalent of 20,000 meals to those in need by June 2019 and eventually apply their model to communities across the country.
That’s where the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) comes in.
CGI U is an annual event created through the Clinton Family Foundation that offers students the opportunity to raise and solve critical global challenges. The 2018 meeting is being held at the University of Chicago later this month, and will unite 1,000 students – 150 of whom are from UChicago and Chicago Booth – with experts and university representatives addressing issues in five key areas: education, environment and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights and public health.
One of the features of the event is the Commitments to Action challenge, held in partnership with GoFundMe. During the challenge, which runs September 17 - October 18, qualifying students compete to raise funds for a new, specific and measurable initiative that aligns with one of the focus areas. By participating, Meaningfull Meals will gain exposure for their social impact endeavor and receive the necessary support to swing into action. According to Reddy, CGI U provides the team with the “structure and validity” to engage the public and achieve a “community-driven impact.”
He credits Booth with providing him both the opportunity to connect with his teammates, and the resources, like the Rustandy Center, the Polsky Center and the Social New Venture Challenge, to make Meaningfull Meals a reality. These offerings, he says, have shown them “how to make it a sustainable business for years to come.”
To learn more about Meaningfull Meals, visit their GoFundMe page.