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Grand Rapids-based startup launches app to help feed hungry children

FoodCircles curates great local restaurants, and provides dishes starting at $1 online. Your entire purchase goes to charity, feeding one child in need for each $1 spent.
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/Courtesy of FoodCircles

/Courtesy of FoodCircles

 A local team of innovators has created a mobile web app that is designed to allow its users to donate money to international and local charities simply by dining out at area restaurants.

FoodCircles, a small local nonprofit team, has recently unveiled its application for the iPhone and Android. FoodCircles has teamed up with 25 participating area restaurants with the aim of providing an easy, fun way of donating money to one of two relief services, local Kids Food Basket and international World Vision.

If you're familiar with sites such as Groupon, Living Social or then you already have an idea of how it works. Basically the app allows users to make a purchase for as little as $1 at one of 25 participating restaurants and then redeem that digital voucher for a plate of food, typically an appetizer or dessert at a $6-12 value. The restaurants recoup the expenses through the regular sales of other food and drink purchased by the donor.

One hundred percent of all donations go to feed hungry children abroad. One dollar (and you can conveniently donate more) provides one plate of food for a hungry child.

“We help people who want to discover local restaurants, save money and do good,” says FoodCircles founder Jonathan Kumar. “Your hunger is powerful.”

In 2012 FoodCircles launched a pilot program that donated via mobile and web app $0.50 for every reservation made to Kids Food Basket or World Vision. Now they are able to offer twice as much. With most of the participants donating more than a dollar, they were able to feed up to eight times the amount of children cumulatively. Already, diners have provided over 1,500 meals.

“At the very least, we’re doubling the amount of good we are doing. Amazingly, 90% of our early purchasers have even paid more than the minimum donation,” says founder Jonathan Kumar. “We’re seeing between two and eight times the children, which is so encouraging. Imagine paying no more than you planned to for a dinner out, and providing dinner for eight local children in need.” 

The app is free and participating vendors include HopcatBrewery Vivant and the Gilmore Collection.

“FoodCircles is an excellent example of what can happen when you bring together an entrepreneur, a philanthropic focus and new ways to problem solve," says Scott Hill, Partner at Varnum Law PLC. "They continue to impress me with their innovation."

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