IVY: The Social University, kicked off 2017 with Laura Bush Lauren at The Jewish Heritage Museum in Lower Manhattan. The granddaughter of former President George W. H. Bush and the daughter-in-law of fashion mogul, Ralph Lauren, Lauren has succeeded in making name for herself by launching an organization that has fed over 95 million schoolchildren across 63 countries since 2007.
1 in 8 children go to bed hungry every night and approximately 100 million children are underweight. 10 years ago FEED didn't even exist but thanks to Laura combining her passion for philanthropy work with an eye for fashion, she is putting a heavy dent in these numbers.
FEED Project engages people in the fight against worldwide hunger in a tangible way. Their artisan products range from tote bags to scarfs and each one has a number stamped on it that signifies the amount of meals or micronutrient packets provided from the proceeds from its purchase. Made in Colombia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, and Peru, distribution of the provided meals are focused on the community where the product was originally produced. Inspired while volunteering in the field, Laura designed the original FEED bags after the burlap bags of food that are used to distribute food in third-world countries.
American supermarket, Whole Foods, was the first retail store to introduce FEED bags and within the program's first year was successful in feeding all of the schoolchildren in Rwanda for a whole year. At last week's event, each IVY member received a similar FEED swag bag that provided meals for 10 schoolchildren.
Expanding beyond just tote bags, FEED now offers an array of clothing and accessories that make the perfect gift for friends and family. Lauren has also helped design a new line of leather purses that have the logo simply embossed for those who love the high quality of simple leather while giving back to the world.
The organization will soon be opening a FEED Café in DUMBO, Brooklyn and have the ambitions of expanding nationwide. Serving La Colombe coffee, the cafe offers guests a socially responsible alternative to Starbucks. You know you're not giving up on your $5 lattes anytime soon so let your daily indulgence donate life providing nutrition to schoolchildren.
Although IVY hosts numerous world renowned thought leaders every month, Lauren Bush Lauren is definitely one of my favorites. She was extremely relatable and exuded passion for her organization's mission. When the floor opened up for Q&A, several IVY members took the opportunity to ask Lauren what she looks for in employees when expanding her team and if FEED is hiring anytime soon (sign me up!) - which I hadn't seen happen before at events but thought it was great networking and spoke volumes to Lauren leadership qualities. Lauren provided fluid responses to both the history and business operations behind her organization while being gracious with her time to converse with members one on one questions after the talk.
FEED's mission does not just provide a solution to immediate physical needs, daily nutrition empowers the children to break out of the cycle of poverty that they were born into, allowing them to grow, learn, and thrive. Lauren shared that her most memorable moment in the last 10 years was when she took the chance in asking a group of young village girls what they wanted to be when they grew up.
The little girl replied, "I want to be the first female president of Rwanda".
Where there is a will, there is a way.