On her first day tutoring students from low-income families at an after-school program in New York City, Alyssa Kapasi noticed how many kids were lining up for free sandwiches and fruit in the cafeteria. One of the coordinators explained that many of these students don’t get enough to eat at home, so a school lunch or an after-school meal might be the most food they would get all day.
Kapasi, who attends private school, was shocked. What’s more, she was determined to help. “I want other kids to understand that if you see a problem, you don’t have to wait to be an adult to fix it,” says Kapasi. She and a group of friends are now putting their programming skills to work to create an app called Food for Thought, which will allow parents, students, and even kindhearted strangers to donate to a lunch account for a student in need at a nearby school.
Igor Kovalchuk/ShutterstockAbout 20 million American kids receive free lunches. Two million more qualify for reduced-price meals, and those students’ families have to pay for part of their food. When they don’t have the money on any given day, the students might have to settle for a meager—and humbling—“alternative meal” such as a cheese sandwich.
One ingenious feature of the app—which is being funded by grants from corporate and social investors, and a GoFundMe page—is that it provides anonymity to lunch recipients and donors. To receive financial help, a family will need only a recommendation from a school administrator, and no one else has to know.
“I want to make my platform an application that all users feel no shame in using,” says Kapasi. She hopes to test the app in a school district this fall. Next, read about these powerful ways to give to charity without breaking the bank.