There’s a new app in town and it aims to benefit restaurants, their customers and charities that help feed people in need.
TangoTab, based in Texas, coined the tagline: “When you eat, they eat.” Founder and CEO Andre Angel started the program in Texas in 2011 as a simple way for people who dine out to help others who can’t afford a meal.
And it doesn’t cost diners a cent. People download the app to find nearby restaurants that participate in the program, with the app sometimes offering deals to customers.
When customers arrive at the restaurants, they check in on the app. The restaurant pays TangoTab a small fee and a portion of that is donated to designated charities to help cover the cost of meals to clients.
In Billings, those nonprofits include the Montana Rescue Mission, which aids the homeless; Tumbleweed, which works with homeless teens; and Volunteers of America, which, in part, helps homeless veterans.
Saturday marked the launch of the app in Billings.
“Montana will be the first entire state to join TangoTab,” Montana director Julia Bryant said during a launch party at Uberbrew in downtown Billings.
She organized a small group of people at Uberbrew, one of the app’s restaurants, to assemble bag lunches for the Montana Rescue Mission. The crew made turkey-and-cheese sandwiches and then placed baby carrots in one plastic bag and raisins in another, placing them all in paper bags.
With September designated Hunger Action Month, Bryant said, it seems an appropriate time to expand TangoTab throughout Montana. Bryant will host similar launch events in other Montana cities: Sept. 9 at Big Sky Brewing in Missoula; Sept. 10 at The Garage Soup Shack & Mesquite Grill in Bozeman; and Sept. 16 at Hub Coffee in Helena.
“TangoTab’s mission has two components,” she said. “We want to end hunger and we also want to ignite economic development in cities we’re involved in” by working with restaurants.
Bryant has already lined up 30 restaurants in downtown Billings, and she plans to do the same for the other Montana cities.
One of TangoTab’s connections to Montana happened when Angel spoke in July at the Innovate Montana Symposium in Billings. In a news release provided by Tango Tab, Angel said he is thrilled to be launching the app in Montana.
“Montana is a place that stays in your heart from the moment you visit,” he said. “I see infinite opportunity for TangoTab to make a real difference in this community and for us to continue to fight hunger with future growth in the agriculture industry, creating jobs in Montana for Montanans.”
Bryant explained that a long-term goal is to partner with farmers in Montana and subsidize the cost of hiring homeless veterans and at-risk youth on those farms.
“In return we would help pay farmers for some of their product that would go straight to the shelter,” she said. “We want to take away processed foods available at shelters and provide more farm-to-table foods.”
Bryant is organizing a round table in October with industry leaders on how to make that happen in Montana.
On Saturday, Denise Smith, public relations director for the Montana Rescue Mission, joined in the sandwich-making at Uberbrew. With the rescue mission serving about 125 people daily for lunch and dinner, any financial donations from TangoTab will be welcome.
“Any new source of funding is amazing and we’re thankful for anything we get,” she said.
Kelsey Wagner, office manager for Tumbleweed, added that meals are important for people who are vulnerable, living on the streets.
“Because if you’re hungry, you can’t really do anything else,” she said. “It’s hard to find a job, it’s hard to move out of that state of homelessness. So this is a really cool program for us.”
Troy Soulsby, general manager for Uberbrew, hadn’t heard of TangoTab before he talked with Bryant.
“I just downloaded the app,” he said.
Soulsby said he was glad to offer his restaurant as a place for the app’s state kickoff. And he’s happy to be involved with the program.
“It sounds like a good thing to do,” he said. “It’s good for the community, to help food shelters and places like that.”