“Once I retired, I wanted to spend time with others.” Alain Frévol made this wish much more than a classic volunteer activity. At 63, a young retiree, he created an application, HappyToque, which distributes food baskets and free tickets for cultural activities in order to help students who are experiencing financial difficulties.

“Student precariousness was highlighted during Covid,” he remembers. “At the time, I was a little skeptical, but I did a lot of research, I studied the issue in depth, and I realized the extent of the problem.” In the city of Lyon alone, his city, no less than 100,000 students would be in this situation, he estimates. Throughout France, there are 1.5 million.

The case of medical students, his wife’s profession, particularly shocks him, especially when it pushes the students concerned to drop out. “Nearly half of these students are affected. It revolted me,” he says.

Drawing on his experience in the food industry, where he held a position in marketing, he began by developing the “Hop Hop Food” application in Lyon. In February 2024, he launched his own project: HappyToque.

The principle is simple: merchants provide students with lunch baskets or “culture baskets”. No need to call on labor, even volunteers, to collect unsold stocks: students come directly to collect their baskets from partner merchants.

“I know their world very well, their issues, I know how to convince them,” he explains. Alain Frévol also implements this very professional vision of his volunteer project in the development of his application. He entrusts the technical aspects to specialists. There is no question of him operating “in tinkering mode”, he assures.

Moreover, HappyToque, which is recognized as a “public utility association”, is supported by an incubator, Lyon Start Up. However, unlike the “young shoots” usually helped by this type of institution, the goal is not to make profits.

Which does not prevent him from displaying his ambitions: “I want to have a real impact, I have results objectives”. The one who now works “6 days a week” on his project – “my wife assures me that I work even more than before”, he jokes – says he measures his success by the number of students who will reach the end of their studies thanks to its application.

After Lyon, where he distributes some 1,300 meal baskets per month, Alain Frévol intends to conquer the rest of France with his concept. Next stop: Paris, where he plans to recruit an employee.