Long before the French doors opened at Sweet Paris Crêperie & Cafe, a new fast-casual restaurant at 2420 Rice Blvd. in Houston, the owners were looking to feed a lot more people than just the customers who would come through its doors.
Founders Ivan Chavez and Allison Young made the decision back then that whenever a guest sat down to a savory Chicken Carbonara crêpe or sliced into a S’more crêpe filled with torched marshmallows and Nutella, a hungry child in Africa, Asia, or another impoverished area of the world would be provided a full and nutritious school meal.
Thus was born Eat Here, Feed There, a trademarked program incorporated in Sweet Paris’s business operation.
For each crêpe purchased, Sweet Paris donates the cost of a single fortified school meal for a deserving child through the World Food Program USA (WFP USA).
At the end of July, just a little more than two months after opening, Sweet Paris has provided 24,408 school meals for hungry children around the world.
Although there are many inspiring examples of social enterprise in the retail sector, the idea to contractually commit to helping fight world hunger is certainly not usual for the food industry, where profit margins are typically very thin.
Nevertheless, the founders of Sweet Paris never questioned it was something they wanted to incorporate in this new venture in order to give back. After extensively researching the School Meals Program run internationally by the United Nations World Food Program, a partnership was formed with WFP USA, a nonprofit organization that engages individuals and organizations, shapes public policy, and generates resources for the United Nations World Food Program and other hunger relief operations.
WFP has 50 years of experience and is responsible for feeding more than 90 million people annually. One dollar feeds four school meals for a child in need.
Many schools in poverty-stricken areas of developing countries lack cafeterias, and a meal provided by the school may be the only food a child receives. The promise of a school meal promotes regular attendance, and parents are motivated to send their kids to school instead of keeping them at home to work or care for their siblings.
Among the key beneficiaries are girls, who otherwise may never be given the opportunity to learn.A school meal does so much more than just feed a child; it helps fight the cycle of poverty and hunger by promoting education.
Although donating one meal per crêpe purchased may not seem like much in the context of solving world hunger, with six million children expected to die of hunger this year—and a sixth of the world’s population malnourished—Sweet Paris believes every meal counts and that one meal may mean the world to a child in need.