Remember the old folk story “Stone Soup”? While many different versions have been penned over the years, the basic idea remains the same: people coming together and contributing an ingredient—whether it be seasoning, vegetables or broth—to a giant pot of soup. By the time everyone has pitched in, the meal has grown large enough to provide nourishment for the whole town.
One Dallas-based business has put its own spin on the tale.
Each month, dozens of volunteers for TangoTab—a company on a mission to end hunger—gather across the country to make sandwiches for those in need during Feed the City events. Volunteers bring an item—such as lunch meat, bread or chips—and then each person mans a specific sandwich-making task, allowing the group to work quickly and efficiently. After the sandwiches are made, they’re distributed to a local food charity.
It was at one of these Feed the City events about five years ago that Allen Mihecoby, Senior Paralegal in the Corporate and M&A Group for ORIX USA, was introduced to TangoTab. “It’s a huge team-building event,” Allen says. “You get your whole team working and make sure everybody knows their specific job.”
When that happens, the result can be record-breaking: In February 2014, Allen and 1,362 other TangoTab volunteers set a Guinness World Record for the most people making sandwiches simultaneously. “That was probably one of the most awesome experiences of my life—not because we set a world record, but because we were able to feed so many people,” Allen says.
And that they did, with more than 100,000 sandwiches made that day. “Records come and go, but having fed that many people is something no one can ever take away from us,” Allen says.
While Feed the City events certainly draw crowds, TangoTab launched in 2012 as simply an app—but quite the innovative one. How it works: The app helps users find nearby restaurants offering deals on food and drinks. (Think free appetizers or half-priced drinks.) Once users check in at the restaurant through the app, the restaurant pays TangoTab a small fee, and then TangoTab donates a portion of that revenue to a local food charity—enough to cover the cost of a meal for someone in need. Or as the company puts it, “When you eat, they eat.”
Even better? The app doesn’t cost a cent. “It’s not anything out of your pocketbook,” Allen says. “It’s what you’re going to do anyway—you’re going to eat, but you get to give a meal to a person in need at the same time.”
That’s an app worth sharing, since approximately 50 million Americans struggle to find their next meal on a daily basis—17 million of those people being children.
Though the app started in Dallas, cities like Austin, New York, San Diego and Atlanta have all jumped onboard. One thing users of the app, like Allen, especially appreciate: It tracks how many meals you bought throughout the year, so you know how many meals were donated. “It’s touching to think I fed 40 people doing something I do every day,” Allen says. “We go out to eat every day, but by using this app, we can actually benefit somebody else.”
While the app provides a quick and convenient way to give back, those interested in participating in TangoTab’s events throughout the year will also find it easy to get involved. All of the events are open to the public—just sign up through TangoTab’s website or Facebook page. Holiday opportunities also await: Each Thanksgiving, TangoTab volunteers deliver turkeys—along with all the fixings—to homes in need.
After volunteering at a TangoTab event, you just might become hooked like Allen, who has been with ORIX for a little over a month now. “One of the things that stood out to me about ORIX was its involvement with helping local communities,” Allen says.
Hailing from California, Allen somehow also finds other ways to give back: He serves on the board of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, where he helps support pro bono community service activities; volunteers his expertise to Legal Aid of Northwest Texas; and teaches continuing legal education across the country. “If I’m not working, I want to do something to invest in the community,” he says.
Still, the hockey fan also knows how to kick back: You might find him relaxing with his two rescue cats, Tess and Page, or playing Pokémon—an addiction he swears has health benefits since he’s lost weight during his Pokémon searches.
Always top of mind for Allen, though, is how he can help make his community better. “When one of us succeeds, we all succeed,” he says. “We’ve been blessed to be able to give back and buy a loaf of bread when other people can’t buy shoes. We weren’t just blessed to have a blessing—we’re meant to share that blessing with others and pass it on.”