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Food Is Love: Feed A Billion Wants To Feed The World By 2020

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Food Is Love: Feed A Billion Wants To Feed The World By 2020
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There’s more to Wall Street than making money. An increasing number of entrepreneurs are finding ways to use it to give something back to a world that has benefited them. However, few endeavors are as ambitious as Feed A Billion, a project that seeks to provide a billion meals to those in need by 2020.

How could someone actually make this happen?

In order to better understand how Feed A Billion works, Benzinga met with the non-profit’s founder, Dr. Ambuj Jain, and its Strategic Advisor and CEO, Jason Sisneros, at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York.

The Story Behind Feed A Billion

So how exactly did this ambitious project come to life?

"I was at a personal development seminar that Tony Robbins was leading, and he shared the story of how somebody provided them food at Thanksgiving and what impact that had on him," Jain said.

"So, it made me realize how somebody feels when they actually receive a meal: they feel important, they feel they matter. Then I started looking at how big the hunger problem is. There are millions and millions of kids that are not feeling that they matter. It’s not just about food.  It’s about love that they feel through the food. Food is love."

3 Continents

“Hunger is pervasive," Jain said. "People are dying. Every four seconds somebody is dying… 21,000 people will die today. However, we can do something about it. Unlike all of the global problems we have, this one we can fix. There is enough food in the world. All we have to do is mobilize it. That is what we are doing.”

We have already provided meals to those that have no other way of getting food in Kenya, India, and also in the United States,” he continued. “We are partnering with organizations that are local, that are delivering food, and we provide them the resources to take food to where it is needed.”

A Unique Approach

“We have looked at a unique approach to solving this problem,” Sisneros added. “There is the logistics of actually getting the food packaged and delivered to another country, but then getting people engaged from an awareness standpoint, getting them to open their wallets or to basically resource those companies that are out there actually doing the execution.”

There are three main ways to contribute to Feed A Billion’s cause.

  • People can donate at FeedABillion.org, calling +1 770-823-3218, by mailing a donation form, or by sending a text with the word “feed” to the number 25827.
  • Companies can allocate a portion of their social media budget to this project. For each like they get on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), they commit to donating one meal; for every share, they will provide 10 meals. In addition, famed businessman, author, and philanthropist Tony Robbins, will match each company’s donations. For instance, when LiveBearded signed up, it ended up donating 55,000 meals; on the flipside, the company saw social media engagement rise substantially, and sales spike by 1200 percent. Moreover, once Robbins matched the startup’s donation, the grand total ascended to 110,000 meals.
  • Facebook users can post the #billionmealchallenge hashtag to help raise awareness.

How It's Done

In its first nine months, Feed A Billion managed to provide approximately 1.3 million meals.

“Each meal costs about 10 cents,” Jain explained, adding that feeding a billion would cost $100 million.

However, Robbins has committed to providing 400 million meals, so all Feed A Billion has to do is come up with less than $60 million.

What do these meals consist of?

In countries where transportation is an issue," Jain said, "refrigeration is an issue, availability of water is an issue… the meals consist of fortified rice, beans, and dehydrated vegetables. In countries where we are able to access a kitchen, they are freshly cooked vegetables and rice and bread. For example in the U.S. where they are provided through homeless shelters and through soup kitchens and so on, it comprises of fruit, vegetables, meat, bread."

The Logistics

The interesting thing about the logistics part of getting these meals to someone is, when they show up on containers, especially in Africa, meals are more valuable than gold,” Sisneros said. “So…some people will steal this; they’ll take all of the things that show up over there and then use it as leverage against people; they’ll hold it for ransom.”

“So, the logistics side of this is incredibly important. What we saw is these people need to be really, really great at what they do and we need to help resource them. That is what we’re doing with the billion meal challenge: we raise awareness, we create an ability to create resources for these companies that have figured out how to get through all of these hoops to get a meal into a child’s mouth in the middle of Africa,” he explained.

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