December 13, 2012 | Health and Well-Being
Her Tote Bag is Filling Thousands of Empty Bellies
Lauren Bush Lauren
Every morning, some of the world’s most stylish women proudly sling a simple burlap bag over their shoulder and use it as their primary tote. The reason: The FEED bag, created by activist Lauren Bush Lauren, shows that the wearer is helping alleviate world hunger. Money from sales of the bag—meant to evoke the grain sacks used in food relief efforts--goes to the UN World Food Programme and other projects. Here, the Chief FEEDER, as she calls herself, answers our questions. For more about FEED, go to www.feedprojects.com.
How did you come up with this great idea?
When I was still in college. I had the amazing, life-changing opportunity to travel around the world with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) as a student spokesperson. I came back from my travels wanting to do more and allow others to give back. My idea for the “FEED 1 bag”—as the original bag was called—came from this thought: For every bag sold, we are able to feed one child in school for one year. Consumers become donors seamlessly and feel proud of what their purchase is doing.
How many bags have you sold?
We’ve sold more than 600,000 bags and given nearly 60 million school meals.
What was your biggest roadblock?
FEED was started because of one of these roadblocks. I initially intended for the UN World Food Programme to sell my bags to raise funds and awareness. After a few years of work on this project and a first order from Amazon.com, I was told that WFP, as a UN humanitarian organization, could not legally be the vendor. Instead of giving up, I started FEED Projects LLC. It was the best decision to believe in my idea even after there were logistical hang-ups.
Do you still get inspired by traveling the world?
I’ve taken over a dozen trips to see FEED’s work in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. In Rwanda, I met a little girl who was receiving the free school lunch program that we support through WFP. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said “President of Rwanda”. It was very touching to see this little girl have such big dreams for her life.
How has FEED changed over time?
What started as just one bag, slowly became two bags, then three… now we have over 60 products including scarves, bracelets, and a teddy bear. It has been a wonderful journey; to evolve and keep things fresh while keeping true to your purpose is key to what we do and I think key to what all entrepreneurs do.
Tell us about your family.
I grew up in Denver and Houston. I have a brother, Pierce, and sister, Ashley, both of whom are younger than I am. My family always stressed the idea of public service. At Princeton I majored in anthropology and minored in photography.
Who is a woman you admire?
Somaly Mam, for her work saving girls and women from brothels in Cambodia. She herself was sold into a brothel at a young age, so she knows the terrors these girls face. She creates a safe haven for girls to recover. She is strong, nurturing, and so full of love.
If you could pass one law for women, what would it be?
A law that would make all women have all the same rights as men.
Any advice for young women?
Believe in yourself and your dreams. Find advocates that also believe and encourage you. Surround yourself with positivity and you can do anything you put your mind to!
What do you do to recharge your batteries?
Sleep on the weekends— lots of it!