(Editor’s Note: This story was republished in part at Better.net in alignment with a partnership between the two nonprofits: The Record Community News and Make it Better Media Group.)
Many have needed a helping hand to endure the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking to help, Glencoe residents David Litchman and Peter Saravis — one with a background in restaurants and the other with one in public health — realized they had something to offer.
They came up with Meal Match.
“You make one contribution and it serves two parties,” Saravis said. “Hungry people get fed and restaurants are more likely to stay in business.”
Meal Match bulk orders meals from local restaurants that are delivered to food banks and shelters of the restaurants’ choosing.
Each $1,000 purchase is meant to serve 100 individuals, according to the founders, who also include Peter Saravis’ wife, Jenny Saravis.
So far, Meal Match has partnered with restaurants such as Taboun Grill and Makisu Sushi in Skokie, Cross-Rhodes in Evanston, and Tacos El Norte in Gurnee. And the meals have supported The Night Ministry, A Just Harvest and Good News Partners, among others.
In its first year-plus, the nonprofit served 4,000 people in need, according to Saravis and Litchman, who also funded nearly the entire program to this point.
The founders are hoping to expand Meal Match’s reach, setting a goal of 5,000 meals and $50,000 for Year 2.
“When we tell people about this, it’s just, ‘Wow, that just makes sense,’” Saravis said. “It’s relatively easy to do now that we have this system set up. … Now it’s just a question of getting the word out.”
Through the Meal Match website and word of mouth, dozens of restaurants have shown interest in participating. And, because none of the founders take a wage, every dollar that comes in the door goes back out to the local restaurants.
“The more money we raise, the more meals we can serve,” Litchman said. “That’s one of the reasons we want to reach out to the community, to hopefully get some more people involved.”
For a restaurant to participate, it just needs to fill out a digital form on the Meal Match site and include a meal center to which it would like to contribute the meals. If the restaurant is selected, Meal Match will “write the check,” Saravis said.
Saravis is the retired co-founder of Evive Health, a data-forward messaging platform for companies, while Litchman is a founder of the restaurant Pockets and the digital ordering software iMenu360.
After the two decided on how to help, they began with Meal Match in earnest and as needed during the pandemic’s ebbs and flows.
Now with the operation a full go, they both think a greater impact is within reach.
“This is something we can really push,” Litchman said. “We are both at a point in our lives that we have done well in business and now are trying to give back to the community. … It seems to have really come together where we can help restaurants and help the community and really make a difference.”
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