Lauren Bush is teaming up with Barnes & Noble this fall to launch the Feed/Read 3 bag, and in doing so aims to provide 30,000 meals to school-age children in impoverished countries.
This story first appeared in the July 27, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Developed in partnership with the United Nations World Food Program and the nonprofit Room to Read, the $25 organic cotton tote will be sold online and in about 650 Barnes & Noble stores, as well as 75 of its larger college bookstores, by the end of September. A child will receive three school lunches and three storybooks for each bag that is sold.
Bush, who first designed a bag to benefit the U.N.’s WFP in 2006, will host a kickoff party tentatively planned to be part of Fashion’s Night Out on Sept. 10 at Barnes & Noble’s Lincoln Center store, according to Ellen Gustafson, a former WFP staffer who cofounded Feed Projects with Bush in 2007. Through the sales of their Feed bags, they have provided 50 million meals thus far, and at least 30,000 more are expected to be served up in the coming months, based on Barnes & Noble’s initial order of 10,000 Feed/Read 3 bags, Gustafson said.
With outreach in nine countries, Room to Read aims to improve the literacy skills of five million children by next year. Well aware that American stories are often irrelevant to children living in more far-flung parts of the world, the nonprofit plans to give the young readers who will benefit from the Feed/Read 3 bags books that are indicative of the cultures they live in. In the past nine years, Room to Read has hired writers and illustrators to develop books that are true to their communities, and 327 titles have been published and 2.8 million books have been distributed so far, Gustafson said.
Room to Read’s founder, John Wood, cooked up that idea while backpacking through Nepal and noticing schoolchildren reading Danielle Steel novels cast off by weary travelers, she said.
Bush also will host events at Barnes & Noble’s college bookstores at the Harvard Co-op and at Columbia University. “The college bookstores are a great market for us because college students love to get behind a good cause,” said William Miller, vice president of merchandising for gifts and product development at Barnes & Noble.
While the Feed/Read 3 bag isn’t available at the book giant just yet, talks are already under way about developing another one for next year.