Community Meals: Meet Locals Through Shared Food

Shared Thanksgiving meal in Egypt

I’ve added a few new peer to peer meal sharing sites to my spreadsheet (category=Activities) of sharing economy travel resources. These additions are particularly interested because they’re really just about connecting people who want to find new and interesting folks to hang out with over a meal. This is different from the traditional sharing economy food model where you pay for the experience of eating (or helping to cook and eat) a meal in the home of a local. This direct peer to peer (no money exchanging hands) meal connection is obviously not particularly profitable for the folks who run the websites, and so the design is far less slick and a bit harder to use.

Shared Thanksgiving meal in Egypt

Shared Thanksgiving meal in Egypt

EatWithaLocal – I love the concept of this website. It connects locals with travelers either for a meal in their home or to go out and eat together at a restaurant. It’s free to join, and preferences for hosting and eating can be set in the profiles. However, the search function by geography doesn’t really work. I found the most accurate results by putting key words (city name, country, etc) in the general search box. This will also return people who are traveling to the destination you are searching for if they’ve posted any information about their trip. I’m not sure how active the members are, but I plan to try it out when I find people matching places I will be visiting.

Colunching – This site is focused on folks in France who want to network over lunch. The website says they serve other countries but I only see listings for meals in France (mostly in Paris). It’s free to organize an event, or to attend one.

ShareYourMeal – People who have cooked extra can advertise for their neighbors to come pick up a portion to take home and enjoy. Chefs can set a price for the meal but this is a non-profit site and focused on just connecting neighbors.

MealSharing – This one isn’t a new addition but it’s worth highlighting because, unlike some of the other sites that are offering fancy, polished meals, the meals on this site are very affordable ($8 for a 4 course meal in San Francisco) and just focused on getting people together over food. The cook profiles reflect this as well, not trying to sell themselves as amazing cooks but instead describing the atmosphere you can expect to enjoy and the general types of foods they like to cook.

Hat tip to Nomadic Matt’s new book How to Travel the World on $50 a Day for alerting me to a few of these.