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Turning Fashion Into Philanthropy

Lauren BUSH LAUREN ON ENDING WORLD HUNGER

For Lauren Bush Lauren, it’s all in the bag. Or the coffee cup. Or a party of six squeezed into a college dorm room.

These are all ways FEED, the company Lauren launched in 2007, raises funds to fight hunger. Today, the mission remains the same: Create good products that are also a conduit for getting consumers to engage in the issue of hunger, especially childhood hunger.

“We turned 10 last year and reached a big milestone of giving: 100 million meals,” says Lauren, 34. Those meals have been served in 63 countries, including the U.S., where FEED recently started working to provide breakfasts for students who already qualify for free lunches.

The company sells fun and functional totes, stylish leather saddle bags, and jewelry and other accessories. A FEED cafe opened in Brooklyn in 2017, and the company helps coordinate suppers where friends can meet over a meal and raise money to feed others at the same time.

Hunger is a daily reality for more than 800 million people around the world, according to FEED statistics.

Lauren Bush Lauren
“We turned 10 last year and reached a big milestone of giving: 100 million meals,” - Lauren Bush Lauren

“That disparity, even in our own country, is staggering,” says Lauren, who saw the enormousness of the problem firsthand while traveling to Central America and Africa with the U.N. World Food Programme when she was a student at Princeton University.

Lauren, a niece of former President George W. Bush and granddaughter of former President George H. W. Bush, is no stranger to fashion. As a model in her early 20s, she was on the cover of Vogue, and she interned with designer Zac Posen. Her husband, David Lauren, is the son of Ralph Lauren and works in the family business.

Bringing two passions together, Lauren launched the company with the FEED 1 bag ($98), a reversible tote inspired by the bags of food rations she saw handed out during her travels. The sale of a bag provides one year of school meals for a child.

There are also more upscale styles, like the mini Simone saddle bag ($185), the sale of which provides 75 school meals. Proceeds from the company’s sales go to the FEED Foundation, which then allocates funds to partners like the U.N. World Food Programme and Children’s Fund and the Food Bank for New York City.

For International Women’s Day, poet Cleo Wade and journalist Arianna Huffington, among others, designed totes for FEED’s Women on a Mission campaign. Each bag sold ($38) provides school meals, as well as a $1 donation to another, women-empowering charity.

And in May, FEED launched its first travel collection, which includes the Weekender duffel ($168, 75 meals) and a Dopp kit ($48, 15 meals). The company is also working with designers on accessories to complete the collection.

In May, FEED launched its first travel collection, which includes the Weekender duffel ($168, 75 meals)
Lauren Bush Lauren

FEED products are sold on its website, as well as at the FEED Shop & Cafe.

“People can’t buy a bag every day,” Lauren says. “But it’s likely they will get a coffee or a tea every day. And every coffee or pastry or oatmeal they buy gives a meal.”

FEED also helps people organize events at home with its FEED Suppers, which can help turn a party into a fund-raiser. Invitations and donations can be handled through FEED’s website, with 100% of the money raised supporting Chicago- based nonprofit Feeding America.

Suppers have been hosted by the likes of Reese Witherspoon, and the company celebrated its 10-year anniversary in October with a buzzy supper of its own. But Lauren prefers dialed-down events. “Anyone, anywhere can do it. They can turn a birthday or a party in a dorm room into a FEED supper,” she says. “For me, it’s really cool that everyday people, including myself,can host an event, and part of that can be raising awareness about hunger.”

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