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'Two Degrees' of Separation Between You and a Hungry Child

That's Lauren Walters' philosophy of helping

How many meals have you delivered and where are you helping alleviate childhood hunger?

So far we've committed to over 500,000 meals. We make donations to nonprofits and charitable organizations that work in Malawi, Somalia, Kenya, India and Haiti. The meals are sourced locally, in the country where they will have an impact. In Malawi, for example, we work with a company that makes therapeutic food; these are peanut paste packs with a high density of nutrients used to treat severe acute malnutrition. In India, we donate to an organization that cooks and delivers hot meals to kids who arrive at school hungry. It may be their only meal for the day and it gets them in school so they are learning and getting a healthy meal at the same time.

How is Two Degrees Food changing the way we think about contributing to social causes?

Wherever the consumer is from an income point of view, they don't have to be donors to charities; this is a way they can help on a regular basis. For instance, high school kids: they like snacks, they never write checks to charity, but they care about causes and they care about hungry kids and this is an opportunity for everybody to do something and to make it a part of their life. The Two Degrees idea could be a part of virtually any food product. People could go into a store and choose a brand that was helping another person.

You founded this company with someone half your age. How has that been and is generational diversity represented in the company?

This cross-generational partnership has been really fantastic; I think Will would say the same thing. I've learned a lot from him, I feel he's learned something from me. And the diversity in age of the people we've brought into our company from campus reps in high schools who are 15 or 16 to advisers who are in their late 60s or early 70s who have deep experience in the food industry. Also, people who perform demos for us are between 40 and 65. They all think this idea is compelling and want to find a way to help. Bridging across age has really been great.

What's your dream?

My big dream is that this is not just a U.S. food brand, but that it has the potential to go global, as a global food model. This idea of doing something really positive for somebody else in just daily activities. We're doing everything we can to make this idea successful, to really take hold widely. The story is not over for us. We don't know what path the company will ultimately take, but I believe in the big idea about connecting food and connecting childhood hunger on a regular basis. I'm an evangelist for it, so we'll see what happens.

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