FEED and Shinola have come together to fight hunger in Detroit. Our teams collaborated to create a limited run of 170 tote bags all benefiting Forgotten Harvest — Metro Detroit’s only food rescue organization. With every purchase made, 100 meals will be provided to children and families in need. Since its inception in 2007, FEED has provided more than 94 million meals to people around the world.
We sat down with FEED founder Lauren Bush Lauren to hear more about why she’s devoted her life’s work to tackling world hunger.
Purchase the bags at Shinola stores in Detroit, DC and NY or find them online, here.
View the tote bags, here.
Why did you choose to focus your life’s work on tackling world hunger?
Hunger can be a really overwhelming problem. Approximately 800 million people around the world are food insecure, which means they don’t know where their next meal will come from. It’s hard to contemplate the reality of that number. But the hopeful news is that hunger is a solvable problem. There is enough food produced each year to feed everyone on the planet. That’s why FEED is focused on the issue of hunger. We know what the solution is; and until everyone on the planet has the nutrition needed to grow, learn and thrive, FEED will continue to support programs that focus on widening access to food in the most vulnerable places around the world.
What are some ways your family influenced you to start a company with a philanthropic mission?
I was very blessed that public service was a family mantra going up. As kids, we were all encouraged to find our own unique avenues of service. For example, when I was little, my mom started a charity to help homeless and abused children. I was tasked with designing a t-shirt to be sold to raise money for her organization. It was the first philanthropic, entrepreneurial project I ever did, which was very empowering at a young age and definitely inspiration for what was to come with FEED.
What are some key memories you can share with us from your world travels that inspired you to launch FEED?
Where to begin? When I was a sophomore in college, I had the incredible opportunity to travel as a student spokesperson with the UN World Food Programme. I assumed it would be a temporary thing. I would see the work being done and come back to my life. My first trip with WFP was to Guatemala. We visited a therapeutic feeding center, where severely malnourished children were being treated. One little boy I met there was so small, he looked like he as he was three or four years old and he was clearly in pain. When the nurse told me he was seven, I couldn’t hold back my tears. It felt so unfair that just because of where this little boy was born, he was suffering due to lack of something as basic as food.
But from the feeding center, we went on to visit schools where kids were getting a free lunch every day. It was such a brilliant solution to the malnutrition I had just witnessed. I learned that these school meals not only provided a guaranteed nutritious meal for kids, but also incentivized parents to send their kids to school – and helped the kids focus once they got there. I was blown away that something as simple, and as inexpensive, as a school lunch could have such an enormous impact on children, their families and their communities. I came back determined to rally my friends to support this program, and that is where FEED began.
Lauren is an Honorary Spokesperson for World Food Programme.
Why did you choose to create a bag as the product that would promote your company’s mission?
When I came back from my travels, eager to rally my peers to get involved in the fight to end childhood hunger, I knew that I wanted to create a unique way to activate people—something that didn’t require writing a big check or attending a fancy gala. I wanted to create something that felt accessible and solution oriented. And then I had the aha-moment for the first FEED bag, which I designed to resemble the sacs of food I saw being delivered by the UN. As part of the design, there was a number represented on each bag, which signified the number of meals donated with each purchase. The decision to create a bag, and not a different product, was one grounded in both accessibility and functionality (everyone carries a bag) and design (a clear connection to the cause). Nine years later, FEED has provided over 94 million meals through the sale of numbered bags and accessories.
What was it like collaborating with Shinola and Forgotten Harvest on this project?
This was a dream collaboration for me. My personal style is very Americana, and I am one of the original Shinola evangelists. My love of the brand grew even more after visiting Shinola’s operations in Detroit a few years ago. Working with the Shinola design team on this bag was so much fun, and I am in love with the final result. It’s a beautiful bag with an even more beautiful impact. Each one, when sold, provides 100 meals to families in Detroit through Forgotten Harvest, a local food bank doing amazing work in the area. This collaboration is truly a testament to the values both FEED and Shinola stand for.
Learn more about FEED Projects, here.