Paula Havixbeck says if she is elected mayor of Winnipeg, she would promote an initiative that helps restaurant patrons support local charities, as well as support existing efforts to fight poverty in the city.

The mayoral candidate told reporters she would encourage participation in Mealshare, in which participating restaurateurs donate meals to community agencies for every specially marked menu item that customers order.

Restaurants in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria are taking part in the initiative, and Havixbeck said the mayors of Calgary and Vancouver have adopted it.

"I have lived in Winnipeg my entire life and have never seen the poverty be as serious a problem as it is right now," she said in a news release Thursday.

"Everyone needs to be engaged in trying to help others and the Mealshare program is a great opportunity for more people to help fight poverty."

She said several restaurants have already expressed interest in participating in Mealshare, which would benefit the Winnipeg Harvest food bank, since she launched the idea earlier this summer.

Havixbeck also pledged to hold a poverty reduction forum in which citizens and groups can discuss solutions.