There is nothing better than a home-cooked meal. And in urban environs such as New York, with its plethora of restaurants and takeout joints, sometimes a home-cooked meal can be hard to find. That is why Ted D’Cruz-Young started Mealku, a homemade meal-sharing cooperative that lets people cook meals for one another, without knowing one another. It is a potluck and a takeout service all-in-one.
The idea behind Mealku is ‘share more, waste less, eat better.’ It also emphasizes community and a pay it forward philosophy. Members must pay a $10 monthly fee that goes towards cost of delivery and the heat-retaining bags food is delivered in. Other than that, no money is exchanged.
The way the system works is this: a cook posts a meal on the community board, selecting the time it will be available by, and a person can place an order for it. It then is picked up by a delivery person to be whisked away to another part of the city. Meals are paid for using credits, called Ku. To earn more Ku, you have to cook and share meals yourself, as well as review others. It is a particpatory model that ensures people aren’t just selfishly eating, and also allows for reviews to help other diners make informed choices. D’Cruz-Young calls Mealku ‘the real food network.’
It is a community of people who appreciate good food, have a sense of adventure and don’t mind sharing themselves. It is also a perfect way to encourage home cooking without the waste. If a person who lives alone wants to bake a cake because they are craving a slice, they can do so and mail off the rest to strangers with the same craving, instead of inevitably throwing it away because they couldn’t finish it. Or worse yet, not baking the cake. Mealku is as much about preventing waste as it is about sharing. D’Cruz-Young says:
We’re still operating in an industrial age economic model in which we hoard everything as consumers but we can’t do it anymore, we simply can’t do it. We need to get more from the depleted resources we have and share.
Since beginning last July, Mealku boasts 1,500 members and is currently operating in New York, South Carolina and northern California.