AUSTRALIA’S obsession with cooking shows and showing off what we consider our triumphant (and tragic) #foodporn pics on Instagram have become national pastimes.

So, instead of social media enthusiasts just showing off their culinary narcissism, there’s a worthy way to make your fancy-pants food post do something more than garner “likes” from friends and followers.

In somewhat perfect timing, Australia’s most respected French-born chef Guillaume Brahimi (well, July 14 is Bastille day) is the ambassador for this year’s #mealforameal campaign.

With two million Aussies reliant on food relief every year and 90 per cent of Australian food relief agencies not able to meet demand, Brahimi is calling on people who “share” their meals on Instagram to make a difference.

The #mealforameal initiative means that every time someone takes a photo of a meal and shares it on social media with that hashtag, main supporter Virgin Mobile will donate to OzHarvest, so they can deliver a real meal to a person in need.

So far, over 260,000 food pics have been turned into real meals, but this year organisers want to go bigger, even including your 3am kebab, your after-work pizza, your at-the-footy pie, a swish dine-out meal, or a sandwich at your desk Insta post.

Brahimi stars in the warm and fuzzy campaign that pokes some fun at traditional, long-winded cooking shows as well as, at times, our crazy food photography obsession. Most importantly, it also teaches how to make the best ham and chess toastie.

This year, the ever charming Guillaume has partnered with the telephony company to help Aussies get behind the cause and in the interim, loosen up their food styling and “filtering” techniques: “I’m always on my mobile taking pictures of food,’’ says award-winning Brahimi.

“I love that social media has allowed us to celebrate and be inspired by food. But I’ll admit, I can spend a bit too long getting the perfect shot!

“I strive for perfection in everything I do – the best ingredients, technique, presentation. To be a good chef you have to.”

With that in mind, Brahimi and the mobile company have decided to turn every food picture we take – good, the bad, the unfiltered and the unflattering – into a real meal for someone less fortunate.

“Why wouldn’t you start posting everything you’re eating as the premise for the campaign is that any meal counts from the 3am kebab, to the ham and cheese toastie.”

(You can see Guillaume create his “perfect” ham and cheese toastie – that’s English for Croque Monsieur – in the video below).

Sharing photos of perfectly styled, overly-filtered meals on social media is something Australians love to do, and some new research has shown just how far we’ll go to get that perfect shot for Instagram.

According to research for Virgin Mobile almost half (49 per cent) of Australians regularly post food pictures on social media and as a nation we are posting a whopping 71 million food photos per year. Yes, our social media news feeds are overly stuffed with pictures of food.

Check out some of these Instagram food post habits:

* Three in four (74 per cent) of Aussie social media users that post photos wouldn’t post a food photo if it didn’t look good enough to share

* Our Insta-shame doesn’t stop there, with 63 per cent of Aussie food posters admitting they would never post a picture of their guilty food pleasure such as last night’s leftovers, a fatty takeaway or their secret stash of chocolate

* Three in four Aussie social media users (74 per cent) would be happy to be more truthful with their posts if it was for a good cause

* 41 per cent would happily stand on a chair to get the perfect food shot

* 30 per cent exaggerate about how good a meal is when they post it to social media

* 57 per cent post food pictures just to get a reaction from friends and family

* 61 per cent of Aussie social media users admit to at least one of these behaviours before they post their foodie picture on social media: they re-arrange the dish to get the perfect shot; they claim somebody else’s dish as their own; they request fellow diners to wait to eat so they can post the perfect shot and they cook a meal specifically to share it on social media.

(The research, btw, was conducted online by Lonegran Research among 1,011 Australians aged 18 or older who regularly use social media and post images of food/meals on social media).

Ronni Kahn, founder and CEO of OzHarvest says that last year’s #mealforameal initiative enabled OzHarvest to deliver a quarter of a million more meals to Aussies in need.

“The initiative was so successful because Virgin Mobile added purpose to an everyday act, giving people the opportunity to turn their mobile phone behaviour into something more meaningful,’’ says Mr Kahn.

“This year we’re asking people to post every one of their food pics – the good the bad and the ugly – no matter what! The more food pics tagged #mealforameal the more meals we can deliver to those in need.”

Meanwhile, David Scribner, head of Virgin Mobile Australia says the phenomenon of snapping and sharing food pics through your mobile is showing no signs of slowing.

“Our mobiles are a one-stop shop for food photography, allowing people to snap their meals in high quality and immediately share them through social media,’’ he adds.

“The success of #mealforameal is testament to this phenomenon and we’re so proud of how Australia has shown its support so far. We’d encourage more Aussies to get snapping and tagging, whatever they’re eating, because every food pic could mean a meal for someone in need.”

Okay, so we’re not all going to be as genius-like in the kitchen as Guillaume, but hey, next time you’re posting your piece of #foodporn tag it #mealforameal too so at least you can help out those who may not be as fortunate.

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