Two of the most defining moments of Jeremy Bryant’s career have involved turning down money.
Less than a year into working well-paid, corporate jobs, Bryant and his cousin quit to pursue a business idea they had dreamed up while in university: A restaurant partnership that would provide meals to local youth charities, with a mission to end youth hunger in Canada.
“People told us it was a bad idea, but the corporate world wasn’t a fit for us,” Bryant says. “We felt like we weren’t having the impact that we wanted, and we weren’t fulfilled at our ‘dream jobs.’ Food is a basic human need, and knowing that there are food-insecure kids in Canada didn’t feel right to us, and that’s something that we want to change.”
It turned out to be a good idea: Since 2013 Mealshare and its restaurant partners across Canada have provided five million meals to youth charities, including Youth Empowerment Support Services (YESS) and E4C’s School Lunch Program in Edmonton.
But, at the beginning of the pandemic, when restaurants were shutting their doors and pulling out of their partnerships, Mealshare’s revenue dropped by 80 per cent and Bryant and his co-founder laid off the entire team — including themselves. Bryant offered to volunteer to keep Mealshare operational, and was pleasantly surprised when the entire Mealshare team showed up at a regular meeting to volunteer and navigate the challenges of the pandemic, and ultimately find a way to continue to provide meals to youth.
“My team is incredible, and they really got us through the early months of COVID,” Bryant says. The team’s dedication and perseverance paid off: Bryant was able to rehire everyone and Mealshare now provides more meals than ever. “I won’t stop hustling until youth hunger is a thing of the past.”