Media Coverage (The Patch):Pleasanton Nonprofit Expands Nationwide To Feed The Hungry

September 27, 2020by Alok Ranjan0

Special thanks to for covering this story and publishing it.

PLEASANTON, CA — A Pleasanton organization founded in March to support struggling restaurants while feeding hungry people has spread nationwide in months.

Tech entrepreneur Reena Jadhav of Pleasanton initially sought to support health care workers and patients sent home as a result of the pandemic through her nonprofit FreeMeals, which she founded in March. Jadhav, who struggled with colon cancer at age 35 and an auto-immune crisis at age 45, knew the struggle of needing food but feeling too ill to get out of bed and cook nutritious meals.

By purchasing meals from restaurants grappling with a downturn in business amid the pandemic, it’s a win-win, she said.

“For me, just the thought that someone is sleeping hungry, it’s just unacceptable,” Jadhav said.

Her teenage daughter, Nikita Jadhav, logged on to the community social networking platform NextDoor and told her neighbors that she would be buying nutritious meals through a delivery service for anyone who needed them.

News of the offer spread far and 50 volunteers signed up to help within two weeks. One end-of-life patient said she would have died of starvation if not for FreeMeals, Jadhav said.

“It was insane how fast it grew,” she said.

Frontline workers were already well supported, so Jadhav pivoted to focus on people struggling most with food insecurity, such as single parents, foster children, and seniors without family support.

Soon, the FreeMeals team began reaching out to restaurants, asking if they would commit to providing nutritious meals to a family of four for $25. They have partnerships with restaurants of all types — Indian, Mediterranean, American, Italian, Filipino — and even chain restaurants such as Denny’s, Taco Bell, and Lazy Dog.

FreeMeals recently launched a “BODO” — buy one, donate one — campaign. That means that anyone who buys a meal from participating restaurants will have the option of donating another meal to someone in need.

FreeMeals uses DoorDash, which allows them to serve food insecure families in Tri-Valley and beyond the Bay Area. The nonprofit has served families in Southern California, Chicago, and New York.

“If we get a request and it meets our criteria, we just [deliver] it,” Jadhav said.

FreeMeals has also distributed groceries to East Bay families.

Though FreeMeals has fed families across the country, the nonprofit maintains close Tri-Valley ties. Volunteers have worked with the Pleasanton Unified School District and local nonprofits.

As the nonprofit looks to the future, Jadhav, who has funded FreeMeals on her own thus far, is inviting corporations to consider giving the organization grants or order for company events through FreeMeals.

Workday, based in Pleasanton has given $5,000, she said.

FreeMeals may have been founded in response to the pandemic, but Jadhav hopes to continue serving people struggling with food insecurity afterward. They’ve received dozens of comments from recipients who share their struggles, from recently single parents to people who have lost their jobs.

Jadhav said her love for her community is what’s kept her motivation for FreeMeals going strong.

“That’s the only reason I’m doing this … It’s about my neighbors,” she said.

Learn how to donate to FreeMeals here and request a meal here.




Media Coverage (The Patch):Pleasanton Nonprofit Expands Nationwide To Feed The Hungry
Author: Alok Ranjan

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“WishingWell, Inc, is a non-profit 501(C)3, with EIN 263642056, doing business as Free Meals”. We are on a mission to feed families in need and are 100% volunteer run. By accepting a free meal you acknowledge that and it’s volunteers and associates are in no way legally liable for anything that might occur due to your accepting the free meal from a restaurant. If a volunteer delivers, you acknowledge that it is your responsibility to ensure the food is safe for you to consume. We do not provide any nutritional or allergy information. Thank you.

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Media Coverage (The Patch):Pleasanton Nonprofit Expands Nationwide To Feed The Hungry
Author: Alok Ranjan