Want to End World Hunger? There Might Soon Be an App for That

Imagine if an app could end world hunger. That's the premise behind Andra Thomsa's new development, a smartphone app launching next week that will allow restaurant and bar patrons to round up their bills, and donate the additional cents to charity. It will also likely change the way we look at new technology and social impact.


Tomsa, a 27-year-old waitress and founder of the nonprofit Spare Change, began the idea last year as a flier in restaurants, encouraging diners to round up the bill when they signed their checks. Realizing this relied too much on other people's accountability, she spent the past several months morphing it into a user-friendly cell phone feature that allows anyone to contribute to the local food bank with a few easy clicks, and reap rewards in the process.

"It is more about raising awareness in the community," Tomsa tells the Good News Blog. "We could end hunger in this city if everyone helped just a bit."

As little as 20 cents translate into a full meal for someone in need, thus by rounding up a dime or two on your tab, you can easily fulfill a demand.

The way it works is a person using the Spare Change app takes a photo of their dinner receipt, then pushes a button enabling the app to round up the total to the next dollar and charge your credit card. That money goes toward charity. At participating restaurants, patrons who round up three times in a month get a cocktail on the house. Particularly in a place like New York, that could equate to $15 drink for less than a buck. If you round up 10 times a month, you receive a free dessert or appetizer.

"Really, everyone benefits because the restaurant sees more business, the patron gets something almost for free, and we feed more people in the process," Tomsa notes.

According to the young entrepreneur's research, if 10 percent of New Yorkers agreed to round up every other meal, they could completely wipe out the city's meal gap in a year. She's working with a developer to build the feature, and additionally, there will be a webpage set up to track how much each user has donated, and to deduct the amount of meals purchased from the amount of meals needed.


Spare Change keeps roughly 20 percent of the money raised from the free app for administrative costs, a figure Tomsa says earns the organization a top ranking in terms of charitable giving. At this point, she relies mostly on private donations, but hopes to make this her full-time job sometime in the very near future.

Tomsa, who earned her Bachelors and Master's degrees at Fordham University, says she looks forward to seeing the impact.

"It feels incredible to be able to do this because, the way it works, no one is made to feel guilty," Tomsa observes. "It is so intuitive. I feel like all of these people will be able to help so many other people, and that's beautiful thing."