Gainesville meal delivery service Eat The 80 launched a social media campaign last month that raised $3,000 to help families undergoing cancer treatment.
Eat The 80’s co-owner and business manager Chris “Boris” Marhefka owns a gym in Gainesville and came up with the idea of starting a healthy meal service after noticing his clients’ need for nutritional counseling. The company follows the 80/20 diet rule — 80 percent of meals should be healthy, and 20 percent can be anything the individual wants.
Eat The 80 has been delivering food for less than one year
“I always knew when we started this that this is going to be a good vehicle to give back in some way,” Marhefka said. “I had this goal to give away 500 meals to patients and their families undergoing cancer treatment.”
This goal became the idea for the Facebook campaign that helped start the Meals That Heal donation program. Eat The 80’s Facebook page had just reached 1,000 likes when the campaign idea formed.
Local business owners have also joined Marhefka in supporting Meals That Heal. Businesses like Dar Shackow Insurance Agency and New Scooters 4 Less donated $1 for every Facebook like over 1,000 Eat The 80 received in addition to their original donations.
Carlee Daylor, head of customer service at Eat The 80, said she took the campaign to social media after seeing the success of the viral ALS ice bucket challenge.
At the end of the one-week campaign, Eat The 80 raised $3,000 for meals to give away to families and reached its goal of 2,000 Facebook likes.
“We figured that we will be able to help at least four families initially with that money, probably closer to five, for a month,” Daylor said.
To select families to receive the donations, Eat The 80 set up a page on its site where people who know of families in need can nominate free-meal recipients.
“We’ve already received some, and it’s very powerful to read what people are going through and just to know that we’re going to be able to provide (them) food,” Parker said.
Eat The 80 announced on Facebook that it would soon share about the families receiving meals. Instead of posting the families’ names, the company plans to release generic snapshots of each family.
Daylor said she does not want people to feel like charity cases.
“We’ve noticed that it’s not usually the families nominating themselves,” she said. “It’s people who love them and want to see them have some normalcy back in their lives that tend to nominate.”
One of the families receiving meals was nominated anonymously through the Eat The 80 website.
One 27-year-old diagnosed with a rare form of cancer was nominated anonymously by a peer.
“She’s fighting but can use all the help she can get,” the nominator wrote in the application. “She had just completed her first semester of college when she got her diagnosis, and I want to see her walk across that stage with a degree. She’s a strong, beautiful, resilient woman, and I want to see her beat this.”
“Where we’re at now is the communication process,” Daylor said. “We’ve had the people apply, and we have five solid families. Now, it’s just picking dates of when they want to get started.”
Eat The 80 has yet to give out any free meals but is working closely with the families to plan schedules. In the mean time,over 1,000 meals will be delivered each week to about 207 members.
Eat The 80 works with Cacciatore Catering in the Haile Village Center. Chef and owner Dean Cacciatore comes up with a seasonal menu that includes organic vegetables from Crones’ Cradle Foundation, said Pamela Parker, the social media manager for Eat The 80.
The food is prepped and packaged by the Eat The 80 team and delivered to its six pick-up locations in Gainesville and Lake City or to directly to members’ homes.
“I know that our reach was far beyond just the Gainesville community,” Daylor said. “More people know who we are and what we do and that we’re so much more than a meal delivery company.”
To donate or nominate a friend or family member for the program, visit Eat The 80.