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ESF Student Brings Nutrition Bars to Campus, Feeds Hungry Children

Two Degrees provides food for kids in need
12/5/2011

Kevin Phu is giving ESF and SU students the power to feed not only their own hunger but the hunger of children in need, with donated nutrition bars.

Phu, a senior chemistry major, is the ESF/SU campus director for a company called Two Degrees, which donates nutrition packs to children in developing countries.

Two Degrees uses the "one-for-one" model, in which a nutrition pack is donated to a needy child in a developing country for every bar purchased, said Phu. The bars are sold at People's Place in Hendricks Chapel on the SU campus, he said.

The bars have proven to be big sellers. People's Place sold out of its first case in a little over a week and the student managers decided to order two cases per month. The bars are also sold at Recess Coffee near Westcott Street.

"I have a big interest in food access and food security," said Phu. "I worked at an urban farm in Chicago so this definitely tied into my interests."

The nutrition bars come in three flavors: cherry almond, chocolate peanut butter and apple pecan, he said.

According to the Two Degrees website, the company has donated 45,000 nutritional packs to children in Malawi, Kenya, Somalia and Haiti. The company's name is simple and explains its mission, said Phu.

"There are two degrees of separation between you and the child that you're helping," said Phu. "And that's what you get when you purchase a nutrition bar."

Two Degrees was started by Will Hauser and Lauren Walters in 2010. Phu said the partners were inspired by Tom's, a company that provides a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair of shoes purchased. After visiting a refugee camp in Africa and witnessing the food scarcity, they created Two Degrees, said Phu.

There are more than 60 colleges partnered with Two Degrees across the country, all with college students serving as campus directors, said Phu, who got involved with the company through a friend who represents the company at New York University.

The nutrition packs are made by a company that has manufacturing plants in Malawi, Ethiopia and Zambia, and sources the ingredients locally when possible, providing the communities with vital jobs and stimulating the local economy, said Phu.

Phu said his goal is to get SU Food Services to carry the nutrition bars once the program is successfully established at smaller retailers.

"I was to show the success of smaller retailers," said Phu. "A lot of them have expressed concern for the price, but for the quality of the nutrition bar you're getting and providing a lifesaving nutrition pack for a hungry child, you're really getting a deal."