Friday Future Leaders: Meet Lauren Bush-Lauren of FEED|
It is the quintessential beauty pageant answer: “I’d like to end World Hunger.” It is an answer that causes eyes to roll, and audiences to chuckle. One might as well commit to creating world peace or boiling the ocean.
But one woman has vowed to change that. While Lauren Bush is not (technically) a beauty queen, she has the glam of an Elite model, the brain of a Princeton graduate, and a passion for ending world hunger–one eco-friendly burlap bag at a time.
A glaring need
It only takes a single scroll through Instagram to realize that there is an obsession with food (as if our obesity crisis wasn’t enough proof). It surrounds us, consumes us and serves as the focal point of the majority of social outings. Thus, it is impossibly easy to forget, or to never even realize, that world hunger is a global epidemic. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, TB, and Malaria combined. But Lauren is on her way to changing that.
In 2003 while studying at Princeton, the UN World Food Program (WFP) was looking for a student spokesperson, and Lauren volunteered. Fast forward to 2007, and after many experiences as their spokesperson witnessing hunger and poverty firsthand, Lauren launched the FEED Projects in partnership with WFP. It only takes a worldwide average of $20 to $50 dollars to feed a child in school for one year. It’s a staggering, low number that most of us spend on one dinner and wine night out with our galpals, while school children around the globe could be kept nourished, alert and full for the same amount.
A fashionable solution
The FEED Projects work so that one burlap bag sold will feed a child in school for an entire year, supporting WFP’s school feeding program. The first bag was an eco-friendly version with ‘FEED 1′ stamped on it. Whole Foods Market hopped on the FEED train, partnering with them to benefit school feeding in Rwanda. With Whole Foods behind them, FEED sold enough bags to fund the entire school-feeding population in Rwanda for a year. A single bag is truly changing the world.
There are a variety of different FEED lines and to date Lauren has raised enough money through the sale of her different bags to provide 60 million school meals to children around the world through WFP. The FEED Projects now has a focus in the US, too. They launched FEED USA, to address hunger issues, nutrition education and healthier school meals here in America. They have also developed bags to benefit disaster relief like Haiti and Japan. And now there is a FEED 12 Toms shoe, which provides 12 school meals and one pair of new shoes with every purchase.
It is evident that Lauren is changing the future of so many young children around the globe, one bag at a time. Her hybrid model of business and philanthropy not only engages consumers in world issues but has provided impoverished children with one of their most needed resources: food. Our generation has a woman in its midst who has used her force and her passions to address the hunger crisis, and for that we should all be very proud.