By Phebe Wahl | August 15, 2018 | People Feature
Montauk's Lauren Bush Lauren and her booming business FEED Projects offer the chance to nourish in more ways than one.
Gadea wool V-neck handknit sweater, $1,295, at alejandraalonsorojas.com; floral crinkle silk wrap skirt, $298, at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; Tess flutter earrings, $90, at bincbodybaubles.com; diamond trio necklace, $650, by Ariel Gordon at Intermix, East Hampton.
"Growing up in a family centered around public service, the idea that one should take what they have and give back in some way was always just part of my childhood and what I thought I would do,” says Lauren Bush Lauren, the entrepreneur and mother of two. After debating joining the Peace Corps, Lauren decided to take a different route. “I really wanted a way to rally my peers in the fight to end hunger—which does feel like this massive, overwhelming world issue,” she says. “At the same time, I loved fashion and design. So FEED really came out of this passion and interest in design, married with a way for folks to engage in this very overwhelming issue of world hunger and give back in a very tangible way.”
Sailboat shawl sweater, $498, striped cotton jersey T-shirt, $68, and white denim jeans, $125, all at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; Form hoops 1, $570, at jhannahjewelry.com; 14K five-diamond necklace, $700, by Zoe Chicco at Intermix, East Hampton. Striped cotton rugby shortall, $30, at Polo Ralph Lauren. Leather military belt, $125, and Sullivan slim stretch jeans, $165, both at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; button-down shirt, similar styles at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; hat, his own. Cotton Oxford sport shirt, $40, and Varick slim-fit cotton pants, $45, both at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton.
Today, Lauren presides over the altruistic empire of FEED (feedprojects.com). From an array of tasteful totes to the successful FEED Suppers, the organization offers a mirepoix of options to engage in the fight against the global hunger crisis. Every FEED product has a number on it, and that number signifies the amount of meals you’re able to donate, or kids you’re able to feed, when you make that purchase. She recently celebrated the company’s 100 million-meal goal and its 10th anniversary as a wonderful milestone. “For me, that was definitely a reflection moment of feeling so grateful that people have rallied behind FEED as a concept, and as a product company, in order to have that large an impact,” she says.
Flora print silk Cynthia dress, $585, milly.com; Lennox Raffia wide belt, $128, at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; 14K small wire princess diamond earrings, $350, 14K fivediamond necklace, $700, and 14K diamond trio cuff, $1,025, all by Zoe Chicco at Intermix, East Hampton; Emma Bloom band, $850, grand tiara band, $1,550, and diamond dusted curve band, $1,100, all at annasheffield.com; FEED 1 bag, $98, at feedprojects.com; flowers at Strawberry Fields Flowers & Gifts, Montauk.
Lauren’s philanthropic journey first began with a U.N. World Food Programme trip to Guatemala when she was just 19 years old. Today, the same program is a main beneficiary of FEED. “It felt like such an easy, amazing, life-changing program that needed, and obviously still needs, a lot more support,” she remembers. “For me it really began with that firsthand experience of traveling around the world as a student. That really opened my eyes to the issues of poverty and hunger,” Lauren says, noting that approximately 795 million people around the world are hungry. “They literally don’t know where the next meal is coming from,” she says, clearly emotional. “You hear these sort of crazy statistics, but going and being able to travel and meet with these families and communities and children and see that reality firsthand opened my eyes and my heart to that issue of hunger specifically. And from that experience, I wanted to do anything I could to help give back and especially help provide meals and nutrition to kids.”
Evelyn dress, $485, at loveshackfancy.com; 9K yellow gold diamond set shell, $1,005, and 9K pink gold moonstone Sunday ring, $1,005, both at pascalemonvoisin.com; solid brass paddle bangles, $73 each, at mahnal.com; mini diamond dash necklace, $625, by Ariel Gordon at Intermix, East Hampton; diamond huggies with diamond tear drops, $1,980, at eriness.com.
Lauren notes that FEED helps the hungry both abroad and here closer to home with Feeding America as its partner in the U.S. “Every country is different and community is different—has different challenges,” she says. Lauren explains that in 62 of the poorest countries around the world, children are going to school and are given a free school lunch (a very basic kind of nutrient-rich porridge supplemented locally with whatever the community can provide or whatever the school garden can grow).
Eyelet cotton open-back dress, $498, at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; diamond trio necklace, $650, by Ariel Gordon and 14K diamond trio cuff, $1,025, by Zoe Chicco, both at Intermix, East Hampton; set of four crisscross pearl earrings, $153, at joannalauraconstantine.com; 9K pink gold Moonstone bracelet, $1,310, at pascalemonvoisin.com; wedding band, Lauren’s own.
”It’s this kind of essential meal that kids rely on, and the reason kids are going to school, and are sent to school, often in places where dire poverty exists. So it’s just this awesome program, because not only is it getting kids fed and nourished, but it’s really giving them an opportunity to go to school and an incentive for kids to stay in school.” Current initiatives include work with Feeding America, No Kid Hungry and funding primarily home-grown school meals through the World Food Programme to encourage buying locally from farmers and feed locally in schools. “It stays a lot more sustainable, and you’re helping even more people because you’re supporting these farmers and their families, as well as being able to get food to school children,” she says.
From left: Cotton Oxford sport shirt, $40, and Varick slim-fit cotton pant, $45, both at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton. Button-down shirt, similar styles at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; Sullivan slim stretch jean, $165, and leather military belt, $125, both at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; hat, his own. Sailboat shawl sweater, $498, striped cotton jersey T-shirt, $68, and white denim jean, $125, all at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton; Form hoops I, $570, at jhannahjewelry.com; 14K five-diamond necklace, $700, by Zoe Chicco at Intermix, East Hampton. Striped cotton rugby shortall, $30, at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hamtpon.
Seeing children playing and laughing, engaged in school and with a better chance at a life to break out of the poverty cycle, is what makes this newly minted second-time mom happiest. “I took my first trip since becoming a mother last summer, and it was all the more emotional to see moms with their babies, who care so much about their kids and wanting the best for their kids, to have, at the very least, enough food to eat and proper nutrition and not being able to provide that,” she says of witnessing those heartbreaking moments. “Even here in America, it’s a struggle for so many. So I think it really has hit home, the work of FEED, all the more since becoming a mom.”
Photography by Justin Jay; Beauty: Les Beiges blush in No. 23, $45, Le Volume de Chanel mascara in black, $32, stylo sourcils waterproof brow pencil in Brun Profond, $33, la base ombre à paupières eye shadow primer, $32, and Les Beiges lip balm $895, in medium, $20, all by Chanel at Saks Fifth Avenue; Styling by Valerie Duardo; Makeup by Lisa Aharon using Chanel Les Beiges at Starworks Artists; Hair by Jillian Halouska using Leonor Greyl at Starworks Artists