How a restaurant app can help the homeless and break a world record at the same time.
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Dignity Health old

Did you know there's a Guinness world record for the most people making sandwiches simultaneously?

I mean, of course there is; the Guinness Book of World Records was literally invented to entertain people with inane information while they're hanging out with friends.

Still, most of us probably don't think about simultaneous sandwich-making, especially not on a massive, record-breaking scale.


But then, most of us didn't create a brilliant dining app that saves people money when they eat out and also helps to feed the hungry at the same time.

That's the basic idea behind TangoTab, a Dallas-based startup that connects people and food when they need it.

Founded in 2011 by Andre Angel, a successful serial entrepreneur, TangoTab is a free app that lets restaurants offer discounts, coupons, and other incentives to diners, usually during off-peak hours.

It's a great model. Diners get some kind of perk like a free appetizer then spend more money on other delicious cuisine. Meanwhile the restaurant brings in business during its downtime, making money it otherwise wouldn't.

But it's not this clever discounting system that makes TangoTab special.

This is what it looks like when #YourMealMatters!

A photo posted by TangoTab (@tangotab) on

Every time you use the app, TangoTab also feeds a person in need through partnerships with local food banks and national hunger-related charities.

Every day, there are nearly 50 million Americans who don't know where their next meal is coming from. Meanwhile, more than half the country goes out to eat at least once a week, and countless restaurants are struggling to balance their wait-lists with all those hours the dining room is dead. So TangoTab connected the dots and thought: What if we connect all these groups for the benefit of everyone?

Since its inception, TangoTab has provided free meals for nearly 1.5 million people in need, and the operation has expanded from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to include Austin, Houston, New York City, Oklahoma City, San Diego, and the Bay Area, with more restaurants being added every day.

Food. Charity. Discounts. Food. What's not to love?

And as of Feb. 27, 2016, TangoTab also holds the Guinness world record for the most people making a sandwich simultaneously.

(You didn't think I'd forgotten about that part, did you?)


TangoTab rallied more than 2,500 people on a Saturday morning at the Dallas Convention Center, all of whom worked together to build 32,000 sandwiches to benefit area food banks.

This wasn't the first time that TangoTab broke the record, either. They had 1,363 people simultaneously making sandwiches back in February 2014, but their crown was usurped by Subway in August 2015 with 1,481 simultaneous sandwich makers celebrating the company's 50th anniversary.

The fact that a small company like TangoTab could mobilize an additional thousand people with their team of fewer than 20 full-time employees is already pretty remarkable. The fact that they did it all for charity was even better.

The success of companies like TangoTab reminds us what we already know: People like to help each other.

"Feeling good about your purchases and your role in the world" is not just some passing craze. To most of us, making a difference actually matters — and it makes a difference for how we spend our money.

According to Cone Communications, for example, 73% of millennials are willing to try a new product just because it supports a good cause, and 26% are willing to pay more for a product if they know their purchase will have a positive impact in some way. You can look at any of the in-depth research from The Millennial Impact project, and it'll tell you the same thing.

It's the same model followed by companies like TOMs, for example, which gives a pair of shoes to a person in need every time someone purchases a pair of shoes from them. There's also Newman's Own, which donates 100% of its after-tax profits on its delicious drinks and salad dressings to charitable groups for children.

Companies using their business model for the benefit of everyone? Now that's an idea worth celebrating.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

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