EXCLUSIVE: A Nutrition Bar that is Saving Lives

Lauren WaltersWill HauserWill Hauser and Lauren Walters – old friends – decided to start a new kind of food company: one that would make great products and help feed hungry children around the world.

They had similar backgrounds – both were the sons of two doctors and both decided on business careers instead of medicine. Both always believed that business and helping others were completely compatible.

Will, while an undergraduate at Harvard, led Harvard Student Agencies, the largest student-run business in the world, before going to Goldman Sachs. Lauren is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and advisor to companies and non-profits.

Both knew that working to reduce malnutrition would have a lasting impact on the lives of children. While NGOs and generous donors were making a difference, Will and Lauren believed that translating ordinary purchases into specific donations of meals could make an even greater impact on the lives of children.

Charity Spring scored an Exclusive interview with them.

Tell us about Two Degrees. What is the company all about?

There are over a billion hungry people in the world– some 200 million of them are children. We started Two Degrees because we believe that there’s a better way to help. We believe that everyday purchase decisions matter. The products that one buys reflect certain things about the consumer. We created a brand built on giving. For every Two Degrees food product you buy (currently a line of fruit and nut snack bars), we donate a meal to a hungry child. We believe that, with consumers as our engine, we can provide millions of meals to children around the world in need.

Your initiative is innovation at its best. How did you come up with this idea? 

I had spent some time in Africa– in Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere, and saw malnutrition first hand. I was reminded that there are also hungry kids in the United States.Those experiences really stick with you. There’s not much in the world that is more tragic than a starving child. But I’m an entrepreneur, not a doctor. I decided to partner with an old (well, young– he was 23 and I was 57!) friend to address this problem. Seeing Blake Mycoskie speak also inspired me. The one-for-one model resonated with me a lot, but not with shoes. I wanted to help improve lives by helping to address the problem of hunger  – the foundation issue for the well being of kids. That’s why we chose to focus on food. For every food product we sell, we donate a meal to a child in need. It’s a simple model, yet our reach and impact is amazing.

Two Degrees Food distributes nutrition packs to the poor malnourished kids, how do you decide the location  of the distribution? 

Nutrition packs (also known as Ready to Use Therapeutic Food–RUTF) is just one type of meal that we donate. We work with a range of nonprofits around the world to create and then distribute meals to the children who need them most. In India, for example, we work with Akshaya Patra, an organization that provides hot, lentil and chickpea based meals to girls who go to school (a win-win). In Malawi, we donate RUTF to children with a diagnosis of severe acute malnutrition. As we grow, we’ll continue to work in more locations around the world. Currently we work in Malawi, Kenya, Somalia, Haiti, Colombia, Myanmar and also the United States.

Will, you are one of of the youngest social entrepreneurs today. Do you see yourself doing something else too in the near future? Something even more ingenious and breakthrough in the world of philanthropy? 

Haha- that’s very kind of you to say. I’m a social entrepreneur at heart and I think there are a variety of avenues that people can take to help in these huge global problems. I don’t know what I’ll do next to be honest, but I’ll be helping people. I want to inspire younger people to consider social entrepreneurship as well. Before working with Lauren, I worked in finance like many people do after college. It didn’t do it for me though. It felt empty. Two Degrees has taught me so much, and I hope to continue learning and building companies that give back.  

How can our readers help in making your noble cause a huge success? 

Two things: spread the word about our mission, and buy a Two Degrees bar! The more people who hear about us and try our bars, the more meals we can donate and the more lives will be saved. It’s grass roots efforts, and word of mouth that will help us donate millions of meals. We don’t have the marketing budgets of big food companies.  We rely on our customers to be brand ambassadors for us and share with their friends and family. Together, we believe this problem can be solved. www.twodegreesfood.com

Please do LIKE their Facebook Page here – TwoDegreesFood and go ahead, buy that bar. You can help in small ways. It is your chance to give back. Help them feed more malnourished kids. Plus you get a delicious bar too.
                                                              Buy a Bar  ——–>Give a meal
TwoDegrees Bar
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36 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: A Nutrition Bar that is Saving Lives

    • very apt, very apt comment, considering the worlds current environment and the necessity of companies and governments to make people dependent on the systems they create instead of helping them help themselves and lift themselves out of poverty. “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for life”.

      • Hi Argylesock. Looking at your website I see you know the science of nature and food in particular better than most. Thanks for your comment. These guys SELL nutrition bars so that an equivalent “meal” (appropriate for the country) can be provided to hungry children. Sales provides a cash donation to a worthy partnering charity in a select country. So in the case in India named in the interview, my buying their product results in a child attending a school receiving a school lunch. Ben, I used to work for TechnoServe. At least then our tagline was the give/teach-fish proverb you referenced. Sure, that is the best way, when you can do that. Meanwhile, what do you do for the children hungry right now, today? That was an ongoing argument taken even to the editorial pages of newspapers when I used to work for AmeriCares (humanitarian relief vs. the long-term development work of TechnoServe). We live and have our being in a broken world. There are no perfect solutions. We each do what we can to stay more in the light than in the dark. Here are two very smart guys who could just be in it for the money and probably would do better money-wise if they just focused on THEIR bottom line. But they created and are growing a cause-related business (there are many — I used to work for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as well) with their beneficiaries being hungry children. I have spent my adult life working for charities. If their product catches fire, they very well may help more people in a month that I will have in a lifetime — and I hope they do. That there are hungry people in the world, and victims of war and famine, and wholesale suffering in general, that is a question as old as time and that has frustrated the greatest minds and hearts.

    • Yes, help in your own little ways. It is better than procrastinating. We always think of doing something big and end up doing nothing. But we are so much better when we do these small acts of kindness.

  1. I read recently, that we actually throw away a significant proportion of the food we buy, because we overstock and for other reasons. This amounts to over a billion or more, ( I can’t remember the exact figure ) in wasted expenditure. This food could either go directly to where it is most needed, or people could shop more sensibly and donate the saved money to causes such as this. It’s often not a lack of will. It’s a lack of awareness sadly.

    • You are so right. The fact that we get everything so easily is one of the contributing factors. I don’t think anyone should buy because he/she CAN. Food should only be bought when required and things will be so much better if we help in initiatives like these because most of us are lost when it comes to knowing the foundations which help the poor. They are one of them :)

  2. Thanks everyone for your comments. I’m an employee of Two Degrees and just wanted to clarify a point about our distribution of meals, and address Ben and Argylesock’s points– because they are important.

    First, to the question: “Do you think that a children’s nutitition bar is more relevant than allowing parents to lift themselves out of poverty?”
    —>Securing a child’s health for the first 1,000 days of life is essential. If it isn’t secured, growth is stunted, cognition is impaired, and even future generations of their children can be effected by that lack of/mal nutrition. I agree, poverty is the “root” cause of the problem of hunger and malnutrition in many places. However many of the meals that we donate are not just “food”– they are medically formulated, and packed with micronutrients that a growing child needs to become fully functional.

    James brings up a great point: What do you do about a hungry child TODAY? Our mission is to address that one question. Do we want to lift all 1.2 billion people out of poverty? Of course! But we can’t do that. We believe that if we focus our efforts on one particular issue– childhood hunger and malnutrition– our impact (because of conscious consumers and their purchase decisions) can be tremendous.

    Regarding Ben’s point: “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for life”.
    —-> Two Degrees does things a little different than traditional aid organizations. We work with NGO’s that create and distribute meals either in country, or locally. We totally agree with your statement– it’s an important one. There is definitely “bad” aid. When we make a donation of meals in Malawi through our partner, Partner’s In Health, for example, those meals are made in Malawi by an organization called Valid Nutrition using local ingredients and labor. We never ship meals from the US or Europe to Africa, Haiti or South America. The meals that we donate will come from the country or region very close by– and these meals will reflect the health and nutritional needs of the children that we’re helping. The food that we donate, in many cases, is equally medicine. Our job is not to train the doctors– we trust our partners on the ground to determine need– we give a [child] [medicine] and he has the chance to live another day. One more chance to make it until tomorrow.

    Thanks everyone for your comments and questions.

    James- would love to connect you with our founders at some point. Feel free to email me at peter@twodegreesfood.com

  3. We have the two degree bars on my campus. Not only do they support a good cause but they’re actually quite delicious. It’s great to learn more about the cause they’re supporting then I read off the back of the bars. I’ve always found social entrepreneurship inspiring. Thanks for sharing this interview!

    • Hey

      That is so cool. Spread some awareness around then. I wish I could have one too! But I am in India and no bars here!
      I too am inspired by such great people! they are doing an awesome job.

      I am glad that I got to know them a bit :)

    • Great to hear our bars are on your campus, Caitliniam! What school do you go to? We’re always looking for passionate students to act as brand ambassadors for us and spread the word on campus.

      • I go to Ball State University in Indiana. We’re a medium sized public university. Brand ambassadors for a campus is a great idea. I’d love to get learn more about two degrees and ways to be involved. I’m guessing there isn’t currently an ambassador at Ball State because I hadn’t heard much about them I just stumbled upon them during my search for vegetarian food.

        • Ah yes! I know Ball State pretty well. Your school orders a ton of bars from us…really awesome! We do not have a rep there, you are right. Our campus program is currently “turned off” for this academic semester, but likely will be up and running again next fall. Shoot me an email at peter@twodegreesfood.com if this seems like something you might be interested in helping out with. Whether you’re a rep or not, any support on the ground to raise awareness about our mission is super helpful.

          Thanks for your support!

  4. Thanks for checking out my site – i enjoyed this story and even more i enjoyed the well thought-out comments section. I understand the point about poverty but firmly believe that EVERY random act of kindness counts. So kudos to the Two Degrees folks and I look forward to their continued development.

  5. Great post and wonderful idea for a company. Help comes in many ways and forms. Ideology is great but real-world efforts provide results until the ideal can be obtained. I think this company is a great example of how corporations can make a difference that individuals cannot do on their own. Kudos!

  6. Thank you for liking my blog post. This is a good and insightful interview. It sounds great when people are actively trying to make this world better. As with above commenter, I agree that we have to teach the man how to fish, but first, we have to ensure he’s healthy enough to learn fishing. By giving them food, we give them energy to learn, to explore, to become someone better at the end of the day. We can give them any knowledge we have, but without food, they will perish before they can read another book.

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