Five months ago I startled my brother’s friend as I eagerly shouted “Those are my friends!!!!” when he mentioned seeing a ‘really cool company called ZinePak’ on Shark Tank.
Before he could finish, I proudly boasted about Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe’s success winning over the sharks, and the tremendous effort they’ve placed into building a multi-million dollar business.
While partnering with Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec is certainly an enormous accomplishment, Brittany’s life was equally impacted when she received per diems to cover her food expenses while filming the show.
As she signed off on the $195 ($65 a day) she was awarded for her three day trip, she immediately speculated the number of meals she could purchase with the funds. More importantly, as she remembered the homeless man outside of her hotel, she wondered how many nights he could go to sleep full if he was given the same meal allowance.
Brittany’s realization spurred the birth of Per Diems Against Poverty, a non-profit she founded alongside her cousin Jennifer Barker, to donate reallocated per diems to help end hunger in America.
You can learn more about the genesis of the organization in Brittany’s post: How Appearing on Shark Tank Inspired Me to Tackle a Major Problem in America.
The average per diem, which is given to actors, athletes, and executives as a meal allowance, is $58.50. They range upwards of $100 for professional athletes.
As many of these individuals are financially stable, Brittany was shocked to learn that there wasn’t a channel for them to donate their allowances.
Shortly after their launch in May 2015, Brittany and Jennifer partnered with Feeding America to leverage the organizations 60,000 food pantries and 200 food banks to make a tangible impact on fighting hunger.
The partnership enables Per Diems Against Poverty to maximize each allowance donated to the organization. For example, the $100.50 awarded to each traveling MLB player can provide three meals a day for 12 people.
Over 49 million Americans struggle with food insecurity; 16 million of them are children who may only have meals at school.
According to Jennifer, if every sports league committed their meal allowances to Per Diems Against Poverty their donations have the potential to almost completely end hunger in America.
Brittany and Jennifer are currently working with sports organizations to create simple opt-ins for players to donate.
They’re equally excited to partner with businesses and production studios to make donating per diems seamless. If you or your company would like to get involved you can reach out here.
In addition to reallocating per diems to Feeding America, the team is dedicated to starting a conversation around hunger and how we can each get involved.
Over 40% of food in the U.S. is thrown away each year, and according to the Per Diems Against Poverty blog, reducing that by 20% could enable us to feed 25 million Americans living in food insecure homes.
To gain deeper insight into Brittany and Jennifer’s mission, as well as how you can take action, tune into Jennifer’s 33founders episode and follow the team on Twitter here.
Here’s a glimpse of what we discuss:
- How Per Diems Against Poverty is working to end hunger in America
- How to get involved with the organization
- Why hunger is only the beginning of food insecurity
- Simple ways you can decrease food waste
Image credits to No Kid Hungry and Per Diems Against Poverty.