Monday, April 24, 2017
5:00 p.m. Reception
6:00 p.m. Lecture
Lauren Bush Lauren
Founder and CEO, FEED
The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government hosted its final event of the academic year on Monday, April 24, 2017. The 2017 Bank of America Program on Volunteerism featured Lauren Bush Lauren, Founder and CEO of FEED, who spoke about “Food for Thought: Building a Social Business to Change the World.” The event began with a welcome from Bush School Dean Mark Welsh followed by Dr. Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics and Public Policy who introduced Ms. Bush Lauren. Dr. Taylor noted that FEED is a for-profit company with a social mission to combat world hunger that has provided over 95 million school meals since its start in 2007.
Ms. Bush Lauren started her presentation unconventionally by asking the room to close their eyes and imagine the last time they were hungry. She asked the crowd to try and remember how they felt. Were they tired? Were they disgruntled? Did they feel fear? She then asked the crowd to open their eyes to a powerful image of a fragile child hovering over a plate of rice. That image was coupled with a comment that one in ten children are born into a culture of chronic hunger with more people dying of hunger than HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis combined.
Ms. Bush Lauren then showed more pictures and talked about how she became interested in world hunger through her time as a student spokeswoman for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Visiting listless children who lacked access to adequate nutrition because of where they were born charged her to find a way to give back. Not wanting to go the traditional route of earning money and giving as many advised her to do, Ms. Bush Lauren combined her interest in fashion and her desire to help and came up with the design of her first FEED 1 bag, modeled after the burlap provision bags used by the UN’s WFP missions. FEED now sells a variety of products but continues to dedicate a portion of each sale to assist anti-hunger programs.
At the conclusion of her speech, Ms. Bush Lauren was joined on stage by Dr. Will Brown, Director of the Nonprofit Management Program at the Bush School, for a continued discussion. Dr. Brown asked Ms. Bush Lauren about current trends in social businesses and how consumers fit into the picture. Ms. Bush Lauren noted the impact of social businesses similar to FEED in putting pressure on bigger brand names to become more open and conscientious. She pointed out that with social media and increased transparency in global events, consumers are becoming more aware of how their purchases can impact communities. By creating a marketable good for “conscious consumers,” Ms. Bush Lauren states that companies can tap into consumer desire to give back while also participating in the market.
Mentioning the quick success of her company, Dr. Brown asked at what point she had a revelation that this model could work, that her company could really impact world hunger. Ms. Bush Lauren recalled two moments when she started to see her vision coming into action. The first was when she made her first contract with Amazon.com which was enough to fund a full year of food for the WFP in Rwanda. She knew, even if that was the only contribution she made, it was good. The second came when she saw a stranger carrying a FEED bag on a New York City street. Going from abstract to seeing one in-person made all the difference and encouraged her to continue.
After the conversation concluded, Dr. Taylor joined Dr. Brown on stage to present Ms. Bush Lauren with a plaque to show the Bush School’s appreciation for the work she and her company are doing to help end world hunger and to thank her for a wonderful and inspiring evening.
Lauren Bush Lauren speaks to Bush School students prior to the Program on Volunteerism
Lauren Bush Lauren with Bush School students
Lauren Bush Lauren with her father, Neil Bush
Lauren Bush Lauren with the Bush School Ambassadors
L-R: Dean Mark Welsh; Lauren Bush Lauren; Dr. Lori Taylor, Director of the Mosbacher Institute; and Dr. Will Brown
Lauren Bush Lauren speaking at the Program on Volunteerism
Lauren Bush Lauren discussing volunteerism and nonprofits with Dr. Will Brown
After witnessing the effects of hunger firsthand when traveling as a United Nations World Food Programme Student Spokesperson, Lauren Bush Lauren founded FEED in 2007 with the mission of “Creating Good Products That Help FEED the World.” Every product sold has a measurable donation attached to it and, to date, the social business has been able to provide nearly 95 million meals to children and families globally through the WFP and Feeding America. FEED has also supported nutrition programs around the world, providing over 3.7 million children with Vitamin A supplements through the WFP and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
Over the past nine years, FEED has forged successful partnerships with companies such as Target, Disney, Madewell, Pottery Barn, Whole Foods, The Honest Company, west elm, Gap, Tory Burch, Birchbox, One King’s Lane, Rachel Roy, DKNY, Clarins, Links of London, Godiva and TOMS.
Lauren Bush Lauren is the Founder and CEO of FEED, a social business whose mission is to "Create Good Products That Help FEED the World." In 2004, Lauren became the Honorary Student Spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme. In that role, she traveled to various countries and learned about the issues of hunger and poverty firsthand. Upon her return to the States, Lauren was inspired to create a consumer product that would engage people in the seemingly overwhelming fight to end world hunger. In 2005, she conceptualized the idea for FEED by designing the initial FEED 1 bag which, when purchased, feeds one child in school for one year.
In 2007, Lauren founded FEED. Every product sold has a measurable donation attached to it and, to date, the social business has been able to provide nearly 95 million meals globally through the WFP and Feeding America. FEED has also supported nutrition programs around the world, providing over 3.7 million children with Vitamin A supplements through the WFP and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
Additionally, FEED has forged successful partnerships with companies such as Target, Disney, Madewell, Pottery Barn, Whole Foods, The Honest Company, west elm, Gap, Tory Burch, Birchbox, One King’s Lane, Rachel Roy, DKNY, Clarins, Links of London, Godiva and TOMS.
For her work with FEED, Lauren was named to Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2009 and Inc.’s 30 Under 30 in 2010. In 2014 Lauren was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs and Crain’s 40 Under 40. In 2015, she was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
Lauren also routinely speaks at global conferences that focus on business, philanthropy and the issues of hunger and poverty. Examples include SXSW Interactive, Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Forbes Women, Women in the World, Atlantic Ideas, and Aspen Ideas.
Lauren was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Princeton University in 2006 with a B.A. in Anthropology and certificate in Photography. She now resides in New York City with her husband, David, and baby, James.