You can be a “circler” if you join the latest rage of buying a meal and providing a meal for Grand Rapids’ children who do not know where their next meal is coming from.
Founded by Jonathan Kumar in 2011, FoodCircles, LLC is a web platform that connects area restaurants to customer groups in order to benefit local malnourished children.
Receiving a $250 grant from Startup Weekend and a $1,000 grant from the University of Michigan, FoodCircles, LLC provides a meal to a child in need each time co-workers, family or friends use the website or future mobile app to eat at locally owned restaurants. The restaurant portfolio rewards "Circlers" with special service, often providing free appetizers, soups and even whole entrees compliments of the house.
The organization kicked off with a launch party in December at GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine and has been empowering get-togethers ever since.
“FoodCircles started with the idea of introducing a flea-market feel to vacant tables at restaurants,” said Jonathan Kumar, Founder of FoodCircles. “But haggling is awkward and time-consuming when all you want to do is eat. So I wanted an app that would negotiate for you.”
With a growing list of restaurants participating in the downtown and Eastown area, dining out using the FoodCircles web app creates a meal for a local child living under the poverty line. It’s a collaboration with local nonprofit Kids’ Food Basket.
“It's not just you eating when you use FoodCircles,” said Kumar. “You're setting up someone else to eat as well. What if every time someone in the U.S. ate out, a child in need ate too?”
And there really is no hassle. No printouts, cutouts or pre-purchases. Get your coupon on any phone; show the coupon to the waitstaff to redeem.
"This is the best idea I have been told yet. I ask one thing: just remember us," laughs Chris Wooldridge from Georgio’s Pizza.
What’s not to like? It’s an easy way to dine out and make a difference in the community. You want to be in a circle, right?
Here’s how to get involved:
• Visit the website
to sign up to be a “circler”
• Forget the wait, just donate
Source: Jonathan Kumar, FoodCircles LLC; Chris Wooldridge, Georgio’s Pizza, Jenny Luth, Clark Communications
Writer: Jennifer Wilson, Do Good Editor