The California couple who inspired people across the globe to donate over 500,000 meals last year to hungry children in need is back—and they need your help.
Poonam and Nishkaam fondly remember the days leading up to their wedding ceremony last Valentine’s Day. In fact, all the photos, videos, and messages from friends pop up when Poonam turns on her phone.
“I get those ‘on this day’ notifications on Facebook,” she says. “When I see what we were doing on the campaign one year ago—it’s really crazy. I see all my friends posting, all the enthusiasm—it’s really inspirational.”
The couple’s campaign—#MillionMealsforLove—captured the hearts of thousands of people across the globe, raising enough money to deliver 500,000 meals through ShareTheMeal, the first smartphone app to solve global hunger. Created by the World Food Programme (WFP), ShareTheMeal makes it possible to feed a hungry child in need with just the tap of a button.
Instead of hosting a traditional wedding, Poonam and Nishkaam decided to donate their entire wedding budget to ShareTheMeal and encourage friends, family and complete strangers to join their team.
Last year’s goal was ambitious: To share one million meals with hungry children affected by violence through a 30-day fundraising challenge that culminated on Valentine’s Day —the day of their official ceremony at the Los Angeles County Courthouse.
Listen below to Poonam and Nishkaam talk about their big day, one year ago.
The initial outpouring of support amazed them. But it wasn’t until after the wedding that they noticed something incredible: Supporters on ShareTheMeal continued to donate through their team long after their campaign had officially ended. The generosity never stopped.
When famine was declared in parts of South Sudan six days after their wedding, 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 and Nigeria to providing nutritious school meals in Haiti.
Throughout 2017, 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 this had become much more than a 30-day challenge: It was 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.
“Initially, it was us pushing the campaign,” he said. “I look at these numbers, and now the campaign is pushing us. It’s all pushing us to become better people in our own right.”
Looking back, the campaign was a grounding force for Poonam and Nishkaam during a year of change. Six months after the wedding, they moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area, replacing long commutes with the joy and anxiety that comes with finding a new place to live and work in a new city.
“This campaign helped us zoom out when we get caught up in the little things,” Nishkaam said. “To remember the bigger picture.”
Through ShareTheMeal, 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.
At this moment when the number of hungry people worldwide is going up for the first time in a decade, Poonam hopes that the #MillionMealsforLove team can rise to the challenge and reach its goal by the end of 2018.
Initially, it was us pushing the campaign. I look at these numbers, and now the campaign is pushing us.
“SharetheMeal is so instrumental in putting the power in the individual at their fingertips,” she said. “It breaks down the daunting fear of what you see in the news and helps you take that first step. I don’t see anything else out there that has the power to do that.”
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5 Donors Who Inspired Us in 2017
“We shouldn’t localize kindness,” one said. “It should be extended to all humans, even if it’s just a small action on your part.”