Why are people sharing photos of empty plates on Instagram?

Here's the incredible campaign behind this strange social media trend.

We’ve all been there. Readjusting our plates, trying to find the best lighting and shifting in our seats to get the perfect photo of our dinner.

Whether it’s a plate of saucy pasta, a burger you can barely fit in your mouth or a crispy salmon fillet - if we nail the photo, we’ll make our Facebook friends or Instagram followers jealous.

But let’s face it: the world probably doesn’t need a photo of tonight’s dinner. The earth will keep spinning if your cheesy pizza doesn’t make it to Instagram. You have many picture-perfect meals ahead of you. That's why Carrie Bickmore and the team at Channel Ten's The Project asked Australians do something a little different: to take a food photo that brings life-saving therapeutic food to children going without.

How can dirty plates change lives?

Drought and floods have plunged Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and surrounding countries into drought. As crops and animals wither into the dirt, there simply isn’t enough food for parents to give their children. The lives of 26 million children are at risk - that’s the equivalent of Australia's entire population not knowing where they’ll get their next meal.

That's where these unusual food photos come in. Food Instagrammers and regular Australians are making all their friends and followers stop in their news feeds with #DonateYourDinner. It's this simple:

1. Share a photo of your finished plate with #DonateYourDinner

2. Donate the value of your dinner at donateyourdinner.org

3. Tag three friends and ask them to do the same!

Hundreds of Australians have got involved so far - take a look at a few of their contributions:


It's a bit odd for a foodie to share an almost empty bowl but just wanted to bring your attention to the #donateyourdinner campaign run by @unicefaustralia. I got an email from them regarding the food crisis in East and Southern Africa which really hasn't featured in the news despite affecting 26 million children. It's really simple - you just donate the cost of your meal (I've made it easy and put the link in my profile) and if you want you can share a photo of your finished meal with the #donateyourdinner hashtag and maybe even tag a few friends to make them aware. I'm always really conscious of how much luck plays into where your born and the hardships you manage to avoid just by the country you live in. For those of us who are lucky enough to not worry about our next meal .. A donation is a really simple thing to do πŸ˜‰. For those who want to know more, a segment was on TV tonight on @theprojecttv or just visit the link in my profile (yes I'm really emphasising that ... Can't make it any easier 😜) @ieatblog @naturally_nutritious @mattersofthebelly @thelebaneseplate @ms_jwong. Update: the website is experiencing lots of traffic so don't be put off if it doesn't load the first time

A photo posted by 🌻 Angie (@feedmeichi) on



#DONATEYOURDINNER β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € The food crisis in East and Southern Africa has put 26 million children at risk - that’s the equivalent of Australia’s ENTIRE POPULATION going hungry. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € It's so easy to take the food we eat for granted. We are spoiled for choice in what we eat while millions of kids have nothing at all. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € Tonight I'm donating the value of my dinner to UNICEF to help these children and I urge you all to do the same. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € Even children suffering from severe acute malnutrition have a 90 per cent chance of recovery if treated with the right therapeutic food. Your $15 meal could be the difference to one child's life. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € Pledge your support by posting a picture of your empty dinner plate and donate tonight. β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β € #DONATEYOURDINNER

A photo posted by THE BIG BAD BINGE πŸ“Sydney (@bigbadbinge) on






Get around this tonight guys! @unicefaustralia is raising awareness and funds for children impacted by the food crisis in East and Southern Africa. 26 million children are at risk - equivalent to Australia’s entire population going hungry. πŸ˜±πŸ˜” - Be part of something bigger than yourself: join MasterChef winner Adam Liaw and Carrie Bickmore by participating in our #DonateYourDinner campaign: 1️⃣Share a photo of your finished dinner plate with #DonateYourDinner. 2️⃣Pledge to donate the value of your meal to children in crisis at donateyourdinner.org. 3️⃣Pass it on by tagging 3 friends and ask them to do the same. - It’s a small act of generosity with a big impact πŸŽ‰ Tonight we're donating $100 πŸ’•@bigpicturestuff @amyleeactive @lawstore RG: @hungrycookiee #DonateYourDinner #melbfoodbaby

A photo posted by MELBOURNE FOOD BABY (@melbfoodbaby) on


Like many of you, I am extremely fortunate to be able to eat whatever I want, as frequently as I want… but, it’s important to remember that others do not have the same luxury… Though my meal tonight was complimentary, I have asked for the value of it and am donating the entire value to UNICEF's Eastern and Southern African food crisis, which has not had nearly enough exposure as it should. 26 million children are at risk - that’s the equivalent of the entire Australian population!!! (but instead, people are too concerned with Kim Kardashians jewellery!) πŸ˜’ Anyway, even if you had a $2 cheeseburger for dinner tonight, please follow my lead and take the time to donate that same amount to show your support to this very worthy cause. Your small donation will go such a long way! Link via @unicefaustralia bio. I nominate @spooningaust @eatingwithyoureyes_ @msjayemm to #donateyourdinner and pass it on x #getfatwithnat #UNICEF #unicefaustralia

A photo posted by SYDNEY FOOD - Get Fat With Nat (@getfatwithnat) on


Join in and #DonateYourDinner tonight


Your small act of generosity could have a big impact. It could mean a mother in Malawi won’t have to watch her child suffer through malnutrition. It could mean a father in Ethiopia can help his child recover from disease. If you #DonateYourDinner tonight, it will mean everything for children in crisis.

It's simple:

1. Share a photo of your finished plate with #DonateYourDinner
2. Donate the value of your dinner at donateyourdinner.org
3. Tag three friends and ask them to do the same!

When you disrupt newsfeeds with a photo of your empty plate, it’ll bring awareness and support to children suffering through food crisis. When you #DonateYourDinner, it’ll mean therapeutic food, water and lifesaving supplies for children.