You know those FEED bags you see everywhere? In addition to being eco-friendly (they're made from 100% organic cotton), they're also made with a mission -- and a good one. Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson hope that FEED gives people one simple thing to do, like purchase a bag, and in turn, help feed children across the globe, and in a way that actually produces results.
Lauren and Ellen spoke with me about the early days of starting a socially conscious company, and shared some of their very insightful observations on the eerie similarities between malnutrition and obesity abroad and at home, their own personal eating philosophies, and more.
MBG: How did FEED begin?
Lauren: The idea for FEED started when I was studying abroad in Australia and working as a student spokesperson with the UN World Food Programme (WFP). What I saw out in the field was that the school feeding program seemed to be working. The program provides kids a nutrient-packed lunch in school, which often times is the only meal that child will get that day. So in 2004, we designed the FEED 1 bag, so that each consumer, by purchasing one bag, would feed one child in school for one year. I came back to the US, had the idea for the bag and had met Ellen, as she was working at the WFP and from then we decided to launch FEED Projects the company in 2007.
What have you learned since you launched FEED?
Ellen: We really didn’t know what social entrepreneurship was when we first started. I remember back in the summer of 2006, we began to see socially-focused companies start to crop up --- a lot of other people were starting to think about making more eco-friendly products, with a give-back element. We know now we were a part of a bigger movement for consumer products that have a deeper meaning
Malnourishment is a problem yet so is obesity -- what’s wrong with the food system?