Oh, how meaningful.

My sister and I were reunited in Toronto after I moved back from Kingston and together, we committed to creating a space that was inviting for anyone to stop by, grab a bite and hang out. Out of the many commonalities we share, this is a top favourite: gathering people together (eating is a close second). When World Vision Canada launched the Meaningful Meals initiative, I knew it was just the thing for us. And it’s probably just the thing for you, too.

Meaningful Meals is a HungerFree initiative that is all about celebrating food while helping create a hunger-free world. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or your birthday, isn’t food one of the first things considered when planning a celebration? The idea is super simple: enjoy a meal and cover the cost of your own plate as well as another to help support long-term food projects. You can have a Meaningful Meal at a fancy restaurant, your favourite fast food chain or the comforts of your own home. You can choose to donate the cost (or part of the cost) of your plate when eating out or suggest a donation as you prepare a meal for your friends.

Our plan was this: invite friends, cook up a storm, start some great conversations and give people the opportunity to be generous with their finances. Recent graduates don’t have a lot of disposable income, but we have enough to treat ourselves to good food once in a while – so instead of going out to eat, we invited people to come over and give what would have been spent elsewhere for food. We decided to set a target goal of $1000 and committed to hosting dinner parties in our apartment every single week until we reached our goal.

9 dinner parties later, we reached our goal! We also made new friends, engaged in important conversations and created unique recipes along the way. Committing to a dinner party every single week was not easy, but the opportunity to gather friends from all walks of life supporting one, important cause made it so meaningful. Global poverty is not on everyone’s mind, but I learned that people are willing to hear out what their friends have to say about it – and for me, that was worth the messy kitchen and the piles of dishes.

I say that this campaign is just for you because you probably enjoy food almost as much as I do and while a huge dinner party may not appeal to you, I bet you can think of at least a couple of people you enjoy eating with. Host your own and post it on social with the hashtag, #HungerFree.

-Joon Oh