Photo: Courtesy of Poonam and Nishkaam

Million Meals for Love

February 22, 2017

When Poonam Kaushal and Nishkaam Mehta first got engaged, they both knew they wanted their wedding to be special — and unique.

“We started talking about how we wanted our wedding to reflect the kind of marriage we hope to have in terms of thinking beyond ourselves and giving back to others,” Nishkaam said.

After seeing so much news about violence and tragedy across the globe, Poonam and Nishkaam realized they could deliver a powerful message of hope to families around the world — by donating their entire wedding budget to ShareTheMeal, an app created by the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) to help everyday people deliver a meal to a hungry child in need.

“We are using the time and money that would have gone into a traditional Indian wedding to instead donate money to a cause close to our hearts,” Nishkaam said.”

Help Poonam and Nishkaam Share the Love

Join the #MillionMealsforLove team and give to schoolchildren in Cameroon.

As a pediatrician, Poonam has seen firsthand the consequences of child malnutrition while volunteering in the Himalayan foothills and Peru. She says the experience left a lasting impression.

For his part, Nishkaam had been a longtime donor to ShareTheMeal, an innovative smartphone app developed by the World Food Programme (WFP) to feed hungry children in need with the tap of one’s phone. For just 50 cents, WFP can deliver an emergency school meal to boys and girls living in the planet’s worst hunger hotspots.

Photo: WFP/Cameroon

Abakar was only 8 years old when his family had to flee their home in Nigeria to escape Boko Haram. Out of more than 850 students at the school he now attends in Cameroon, 150 are displaced children like him.

So last January, the couple created their own team on the ShareTheMeal app and picked a fitting name—#MillionMealsforLove— to reflect their ambitious goal of raising enough money to deliver 1 million meals to children in need. Then they encouraged their friends, family and anyone who could help to donate to their team in the month-long run-up to their wedding on Valentine’s Day.

But it wasn’t until after their wedding that the couple noticed something incredible: Supporters on ShareTheMeal continued to donate through their team long after their campaign had officially ended. The generosity never stopped.

Photo: WFP/Cameroon

Children in Cameroon who have been affected by the Boko Haram crisis rely on a nourishing school meal from the World Food Programme.

When famine was declared in parts of South Sudan six days after their wedding last February, Poonam shared the news to keep the momentum going. Each post or tweet was a new opportunity for their team to continue supporting WFP’s work to fight hunger worldwide, from fighting famine in South Sudan to providing nutritious school meals in Haiti.

Throughout last year, the notifications from the ShareTheMeal app kept coming. And, #MillionMealsforLove kept growing—200,000, 300,000, 400,000 meals.

It was a powerful reminder that their campaign had become much more than a 30-day challenge: It became a way of life, inspiring Poonam and Nishkaam to continue donating small amounts on the app when they’d go out to eat or celebrate birthdays.

Since its launch last January, more than 6,000 people have joined #MillionMealsforLove and donated almost 550,000 meals and counting to feed hungry children around the world. Right now, they are more than 50 percent toward their million meal goal.

For their upcoming one-year wedding anniversary, the couple is hoping to get even closer to the reality of 1 million meals delivered across the globe.

Their initial message remains true: That everyday people can make a difference in the life of a hungry child in need.

“We hope our story inspires people in our local communities and hopefully beyond,” Nishkaam said.

Share the Love, Share the Meal

Use the ShareTheMeal app or give today — join team #MillionMealsforLove to share school meals with children in need. Then show your support by sharing why you donated using the hashtag #MillionMealsforLove.