Turning Montreal’s restaurants into a soup kitchen network for those in need

Share Your Plate’s a new initiative addressing food accessibility by putting local restaurants’ meals in the hands of those that need them most.

The Main

The Main

November 10, 2023- Read time: 4 min
Turning Montreal’s restaurants into a soup kitchen network for those in needNatacha Guiragossian of @natachaeats (centre), with Alessandro Rea and Michael Grande of @mangiabeneboys, who've started the new initiative to donate to Racine Croisée. | Photograph: Scott Usheroff (@cravingcurator)

If you have it or not, what are you going to do if you have an audience and an iota of influence? 

When it comes to influencers, their social media spaces can be places we’ll sooner see images of someone enjoying their own life than helping others in need—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for ways to help.

“I don't want my account to be just another food account,” Natacha Guiragossian of @natachaeats says. “I want to make a difference in my community and city and give back.”

“When you've got a way to reach a large group of people, (you’ve) a responsibility to shine a light on things that need attention and inspire others in a positive way, starting this chain reaction where we all can make a real difference together,” adds Michael Grande, who runs @mangiabeneboys with Alessandro Rea.

“Social media does have its downfalls,” Rea admits, “but what’s great about it is the community aspect and how it connects people, so to use my platform to spread a positive message that can reach such a wide audience of people? It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

“I don't want my account to be just another food account”
Sharing the plate. | Photograph: Scott Usheroff (@cravingcurator)
The simple act of having a regular meal is something so many people can't take for granted.

In the beginning

With their sizeable followings, Guiragossian, Grande and Rea are launching and promoting Share Your Plate, an initiative connected with the local cultural association Racine Croisée’s food bank to address food accessibility by establishing partnerships with local restaurants. As the restaurants create catered meals at a significantly reduced price, Share Your Plate’s fundraising initiatives will purchase those meal packages directly, supporting both the restaurants and those in need.

Racine Croisée regularly gives those in ened a complete box of groceries that can last up to a week. They explain that many of their users are individuals who need services, despite working a typical 9-5 job and either live alone or with a family. 

As food prices at grocery stores have increased substantially, eating out has gotten expensive, and longstanding urban design of cities contribute to the creation of food deserts among other factors, the chips are getting stacked—something that compelled the creation of Share Your Plate. 

“For the last couple of months, on my drive back home from work, I would see massive lineups of people waiting outside with grocery bags.  I couldn't figure out why all these people were waiting in line outside, sometimes in the rain—that’s how I came across the local food bank Racine Croisée,” Natacha says.

Reaching out to Grande and Rea, they pooled their expertise stemming from their lives inside and out of their content creation, and the rest is history.

New missions

“For us as content creators, checking out Montreal's restaurants every week is amazing. We get it—it's a privilege,” Grande says.  “But it's that's why we're into this initiative. We want everyone to taste the great food that Montreal has to offer.”

“The simple act of having a regular meal is something so many people can't take for granted. It's that realization that sparked the idea behind this initiative—to share the joy of a good meal with those who might not have had the chance to experience it before,” he adds.

Rea, who’s been involved in charities as both a donor and volunteer, sees Share Your Plate as the start of something impactful that speak to his experience.

“As a content creator that has the opportunity to attend food events and restaurant openings, there’s always an abundance of food,” he says. “Some people really don’t have the opportunity to experience this, so why not try and change that?”

Photograph: Scott Usheroff (@cravingcurator)

Next steps

Looking forward, Share Your Plate’s efforts will start in December for the holidays, but will continue to tackle food scarcity beyond December, as its organizer plan on keeping the momentum going, collaborating with more restaurants, expanding its reach, planning events, and continuing its efforts to ensure meals reach those who need them most. 

“This initiative is a long-term commitment for us, and we're determined to keep making a difference in the fight against food scarcity and accessibility within our community,” the group says.

Share Your Plate is now accepting donations via Racine Croisée’s website.

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