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Lauren Bush's FEED bags help carry the burden of African hunger.


Lauren Bush's FEED bags help carry the burden of African hunger.

It's the day after Yom Kippur, and Lauren Bush is starving. After fasting in solidarity with her boyfriend, she's ordered a one-of-everything kind of brunch: egg whites with cheddar, toast, a plate of hash browns, and a cappuccino. "I think the hardest thing was not drinking water," says Bush, 22. "But I wanted to see if I could do it, and I could." Despite her pedigree (she's a presidential niece), connections (the boyfriend is fashion scion David Lauren) and swan-like good looks, Bush has a conscience that propels her beyond the benefit-gala circuit. To wit, this morning, as she breaks her fast in downtown New York, she's talking about FEED bags-the reusable burlap and cotton totes with the word "feed" stamped on the side-that she's designed to raise money and awareness for world hunger.In college, Bush served as a Youth Ambassador to the United Nations, traveling to Guatemala, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Chad, where she saw firsthand the consequences of starvation. "After you go and see that," she says, "it's hard not to do something about it, and hard not to want to help." Which is where the bags come in. During her travels, it was the U.N. World Food Program's school feeding initiative that touched her the most. "In a lot of countries, the kids normally wouldn't even go to school, but if their family can't feed them at home it makes sense: You go to school to get the meal....It incentivizes [education]."
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I would love for [this] to be completely nonpolitical because I think it distracts from the real humanitarian point of the project.
Starvation is the number one killer in Africa, taking more lives than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. With this in mind, Bush was compelled to put her varied interests in philanthropy, design, and fashion to work: The proceeds of each FEED bag will provide lunch for one African student every day for a year. "I really hope they catch on," says the native Texan. Bush has propelled this project almost entirely on her own, calling in only a few favors along the way-none of which relied on her uncle's political power. "I would love for [this] to be completely nonpolitical," she says, "because I think it distracts from the real humanitarian point of the project."As the HIV crisis in Africa has taken center stage, Bush worries that the equally devastating problem of hunger has fallen off people's radar. "I have worn my sample bag and I get a lot of questions," she says. "I hope that in order to carry the bag people will understand what the bag really signifies. More than anything, I hope it will be a way of starting a conversation."GET ONE Bush's FEED bags will be available on amazon.com in February.LEARN MORE worldfeedbag.org
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