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Eatiply: Eat a meal, donate a meal

You decide it's time to donate to charity. So what do you do? Likely reach for your wallet or try to squeeze a couple of volunteer hours into your busy schedule. That's simple enough, but what you probably don't know is that giving back is now as easy as going out to eat.

Thanks to a new local organization, fighting world hunger is as easy as doing what you love-- eating, with no extra cost to you.

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Eatiply is the freshly launched nonprofit that makes donating a meal to someone in need easy on the wallet, gratifying, and basically effortless. It works by pairing with local restaurants (10 to date after its startup in November) to donate one meal to charity for every meal purchased by a customer. Regardless of meal price, restaurants donate the same amount (up to 50 cents) per entrée. In other words, all you do is eat whatever you want; nothing is added to your check.

After you dine at an Eatiply participating restaurant, the 50 cents donated on your behalf will go to one of a few charities: Feed My Starving Children, Feeding America, Share Our Strength, and a couple local charities, who will then make a meal for someone in need, either locally or abroad.

Customers can also choose to send their meal to a specific destination by registering on Eatiply's new iPhone app or at eatiply.com.

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The company's founder, David Woodbury credits Eatiply's success to their restaurant partners. More than 30,000 meals have been donated since November. "Ultimately, the restaurants are the engine that make this go, and they have done a great job promoting us inside their establishments," he says.

The French Hen Café in St. Paul served as Eatiply's test restaurant, pairing with the company from the day it opened. French Hen's Madeline Rivard says the program has created a sense of true loyalty with their customers.

Finding the right restaurant partners is key, CEO Woodbury explained, and while they're searching for more restaurants, they don't just choose anybody to participate.

"One of the main things we look for in our restaurant partners is those that are locally owned; we're not going after big chains or anything like that. You know, 'foodie type' restaurants."

So the next time you feel hungry and charitable, stop by any of these Eatiply participating restaurants.