Interview with Massimiliano Costa from ShareTheMeal
Get insights into ShareTheMeal—the United Nations World Food Program’s app against global hunger.
ShareTheMeal is an initiative of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) - the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. Each year, WFP reaches more than 86 million people with food assistance in around 83 countries. WFP is 100% voluntarily funded, so every donation counts. Donations from the ShareTheMeal app support various WFP operations ranging from resilience building and school feeding programmes to providing food assistance in emergencies.
About Massimiliano Costa
Massimiliano Costa has been part of the ShareTheMeal since its founding. In 2015, he started as the project’s Marketing and PR Manager and since 2017 he has helmed the initiative. Throughout his career, Massimiliano has founded two companies—Code a Vision, a start-up that trains and manages top developers from Southern Italy and creates quality digital products, and Groop, a smart party and concert planner powered by machine learning and algorithms. From 2011 to 2014, he worked as a Senior Associate and Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. Massimiliano holds a MA in International Affairs from Columbia University.
As the CEO of ShareTheMeal, tell us about your app. What does it do? How does it work?
ShareTheMeal is the crowdfunding app of the World Food Program (WFP) that allows you to feed a child for an entire day with just US $ 0.50. It was launched five years ago. Today, there are over eight-hundred million hungry people in the world, and one million of them are kids. At the same time, there are 20 smartphone users for each hungry child in the world. Through the United Nations World Food Program, it only costs US $ 0.50 to feed a child for an entire day. So we thought it would be fantastic to connect all these smartphone users with the children that need their support most. And so now, you can download the app for free. You can pick where you want to share your meal—it can be to a program in Uganda, Iraq, Bangladesh or many other countries. We then collect the money, and the WFP distributes it to children in need.
ShareTheMeal’s core values are transparency, effectiveness, and sustainability. Tell us more.
ShareTheMeal was created for a young audience—for millennials and Gen Z. We know that transparency, effectiveness and sustainability form the heart of this audience’s values. These are also our core values because we ourselves are a team of millennials and young people. One of the ways we live up to these values, for example, is that we created an experience within our app called ‘The Table’. This is our subscription-based donating experience. We developed it using data that WFP collects from the field, and we manage this data to give our donors a better sense of what their money is being used for. As a result, a person living here in Germany, for example, can know what type of commodity and what type of food a family in South Sudan was able to buy thanks to their donation. This is just one of our first steps towards bringing ShareTheMeal into a peer-to-peer-based evolutionary experience that can maximise the transparency of overall donations.
In what ways is the food supply chain as it stands today contributing to hunger around the world?
The supply chain, more than contributing to hunger, has elements related to solving hunger because it's really what gets us fed. This is also one of the core strengths of the United Nations World Food Program. Imagine what is needed to set up a supply chain that can feed millions of people when, for example, a natural disaster hits a country. This is what the WFP is ready to do and continues to do with its very strong logistics department. So the supply chain, specifically the food supply chain, is paramount—it really forms the foundation for the entire solution to hunger.
What can food producers do to support ShareTheMeal?
We built ShareTheMeal so that everyone—every single person—can help because it costs so little to help. We have many functionalities built into the app that make it easy for other companies to join. You don’t have to be the biggest company on earth to make a difference. You don't have to be a rich man to make a difference. You can just do your part in whatever way you can. In this respect, I believe that food producers can also consider joining us.
We have a functionality within the app that allows everyone to create their own page, their own team. It allows them to raise money among colleagues and customers as well. The more people fighting hunger, the merrier; and the sooner we can get toward a world without hunger. One thing that they can definitely do is to get in touch with us so we can facilitate good ways for them to make small contributions or to get their customers to contribute as well.