'Spare' app looks to close hunger gap in New York City

EMBED </>More Videos

Lauren Glassberg has the details. (WABC)

A mother in the Bronx is asking New Yorkers for their spare change in the fight against hunger, and she's doing it in a way Millennials can appreciate -- through an app.

The 29-year-old saw food lines in her native country before she came to America, and here in New York, she finds there are just too many people going hungry as well. So she is putting her economics degree to good use.

Polenta is something Andra Tomsa grew up eating.

"Farmers in the field used to make it, wrap it up in a ball and eat it throughout the day," she said.

And now, she's making it for her 3-year-old son Quinn.

"When I first got pregnant, I was just out of college," she said. "And my first thought was, how am I going to survive? How am I going to feed my kid?"

Hunger and figuring out where the next meal is coming from is something many New Yorkers have to contend with, and it's what inspired Tomsa to create an app called Spare.

"What we're trying to do is close the meal gap," she said. "In New York, there are currently 235 million missing meals through the five boroughs."

And 50 percent of those are in the Bronx, where Tomsa lives.

The app works by essentially collecting your spare change. It is linked to your bank card, and when you eat at a restaurant, it automatically rounds up your bill to the nearest dollar.

"It only takes 25 cents to feed a New Yorker, so the round-up is really legitimized," she said. "You can make a big impact just with your spare change on your food purchases."

And you can see the impact, thanks to a social component allowing you to compete with friends. And as a rewards incentive, frequent roundups at partner restaurants translate to free drinks or food for you.

"If we get 10 percent of New Yorkers to round up $6 each month, we can close the gap in a single year," she said.

And as Tomsa enjoys a meal with her son, she hopes Spare affords other New Yorkers the same opportunity.

Eighty percent of the money raised through the Spare app will be given each year to a New York City non profit at the forefront of fighting hunger, while the remaining money gets reinvested into the app's technology.
Related Topics:
(Copyright ©2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)