You may be tempted to dismiss Lauren Bush Lauren as simply another model turned designer, or even assume that because of her famous pedigree—she’s George Bush Sr.’s granddaughter and married to Ralph Lauren’s son, David—that you can find her in the club scene partying with all the other well-heeled socialites.
In fact, you’re more likely to find Bush Lauren overseas working with the World Food Programme than you are at any wild soirée. The 27-year old stunner co-founded the FEED program in 2007 to raise money for the battle against world hunger. Now, Bush Lauren has teamed up with Tory Burch and Holt Renfrew to create a limited edition tote. The purchase of each tote will feed a child in a developing country for one year. ELLE Canada caught up with Bush Lauren to get the inside scoop on the FEED project.
How did you become involved with the World Food Programme?
"I was a sophomore in college and I was studying anthropology and learning about development work. They were starting a ‘Students fighting World Hunger’ campaign. I worked with them to develop the program and get other students involved in what they’re doing. I was able to travel with them to several different countries in Asia, South America and Latin America."
Where did the idea for FEED come from?
"After those initial trips, when I was a student I would speak to my peers to try and get them involved in the fight against world hunger. But students aren’t at a point in their life where they’re going to write a big donation check. The FEED bag was created out of a frustration. I thought, ‘How can I engage young people to give back in a meaningful way?’ The idea came at the same time as reusable bags were becoming more popular, and so I created the original FEED bag. For every bag sold, it feeds a child in school for a year. It’s an extremely simple idea."
How did Holt Renfrew and Tory Burch become involved?
"Holt’s does a charitable program every year, so they said ‘We’d love to work with feed.’ And Tory and I had meetings and talked about what we could do together, so when the opportunity came up, we thought ‘What a great program!’ To be able to raise money for the Tory Burch foundation as well, it’s a great partnership and aesthetic marriage of brands and causes."
Read more about Lauren Bush’s experiences overseas with the World Food Programme on the next page…
Where was the first place that you travelled to with the World Food Program?
"Guatemala. It’s only a four-hour flight from New York City, but when I went it was one of the worst places for child malnutrition in Latin America. There were so many kids that were malnourished, but on the hopeful front we went to schools and they were getting a free school lunch, this nutrient-packed porridge. I thought, ‘What an awesome solution to world hunger,’ because kids get a nutritious lunch and they’re attending school to get it. So it’s encouraging education, and making sure that kids have a healthy meal."
Where have you travelled to that’s had the biggest impact?
"The toughest place I’ve visited was Chad, in Africa, these refugee camps. It was the direst situation I’ve ever seen. Basically, Chad is a landlocked country and it’s next door to Sudan and people were fleeing across the border to find refuge in Chad. Chad is a desert, it’s dry and hard to grow crops. It’s a tough place to live. So we’re going across the desert and out of nowhere is this massive tent, and people have literally fled their homes with only what they can carry. Often, a lot of the men are the ones fighting so the majority of the camps are women and children. The hopeful thing about the camps is at least people are receiving medical vaccinations and food and water. I visited one tent with new moms—women who walked across the desert pregnant, or with newborns. I can’t imagine what it’s like to leave your home and to go through that, it was pretty hard to see."
What is it like going back to life in New York after seeing the poverty that most of the world endures?
"That’s always the most shocking part. It’s hard to reconcile the disparity that exists in this world. We don’t think twice about buying a San Pellegrino, whereas people on the other side of the world have to walk for miles to find clean water with their belongings on their back. I don’t know how to make sense of that, and it’s definitely always more jarring right when I come back from a trip. I try not to feel guilty about what I have—I try to just say, ‘What can I do to help?‘"
The FEED bags are available exclusively at Holt Renfrew for $50.
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