2.6 Million Kids Die of Acute Malnutrition Every Year—This Granola Bar Company Wants to Help

July 19, 2016
by Michelle Pellizzon for Thrive Market
2.6 Million Kids Die of Acute Malnutrition Every Year—This Granola Bar Company Wants to Help

This Bar Saves Lives. That’s a pretty bold name for a granola bar.

But it probably doesn’t mean what you think. While This Bar Saves Lives products are non-GMO and loaded with good-for-you ingredients, it’s not only your life that benefits every time you eat them. More importantly, the purchase of every bar helps to save the life of a child stricken with malnutrition.

Here’s how it works: When you buy any bar (try Wild Blueberry Pistachio or Dark Chocolate Cherry), a life-saving packet of food called Plumpy’Nut is sent children in areas of the world that need it most, like Haiti, the Philippines, and Guatemala.

Plumpy’Nut is a nutrient-fortified peanut butter that’s shelf-stable and requires zero cooking or preparation. According to UNICEF, three packets a day for seven weeks can take a child from near death to certain survival.

The idea came from co-founder Ryan Devlin and three other friends: Kristen Bell, Todd Grinnell, and Ravi Patel. After learning about Plumpy’Nut firsthand on a trip to Africa, they were inspired to found the company.

But in order for the idea to take off and really make an impact, the group realized they had to make the bars taste really good. “We didn’t know anything about making a healthy product except that it had to taste awesome,” admits Devlin. So, they hired food scientists, private chefs, and nutritionists to help develop one of the healthiest, tastiest granola bars possible. The resulting line of products boasts flavorful, nutritious ingredients like Madagascar vanilla, rich honey, dark chocolate, and non-GMO nuts and berries. They’re all gluten-free, too!

“By giving people a delicious granola bar with non-GMO healthful ingredients, we’re helping our customers do good by their bodies,” says Devlin. “And, in turn, they’re helping us save thousands of lives across the world.”

We caught up with Devlin to chat about the company’s progress over the past year, the challenges of running a business with a social mission, and to ask him if he has a favorite bar (hint: he does).

The inspiration for This Bar Saves Lives: “We took a trip to Liberia and saw how Plumpy’Nut absolutely lifted kids from the depths of malnutrition. We thought there had to be a sustainable way to keep getting these kids the food aid they needed. Instead of making a bag or a necklace that you might wear once, it was important to us that our product became part of our customers’ everyday lives. That way, you’re reminded daily of your impact.”

The hardest thing about his job: “There are plenty of challenges, but in running a social impact business like ours, it’s really like we’re running two businesses: Building a great product, and focusing on our social mission. That can get tricky sometimes—but at the end of the day it’s so worth it.”

The amount of Plumpy’Nut donations: “We give a few different types of aid. We’re about to cross the 1 million packet mark, which is just so inspiring.”

The coolest ingredient: “That’s gotta be the bee-friendly almonds that we make our bars with. The bee population is facing some serious problems, so we support bee colonies by sourcing almonds that are grown alongside other crops, which creates a far healthier environment for bees.”

The best way to learn: “This company was started by a bunch of actors (Kristen Bell, Todd Grinnell, and Ravi Patel)—we didn’t know anything! I ask a million questions a day and learn as much as possible from our incredible team of experts. Asking questions opens up important conversations.”

His favorite healthy snack: “My wife taught me this trick: Eat the Madagascar Vanilla Almond and Honey bar with a square of really rich dark chocolate on top. It’s unbelievable."

Photo credit: This Bar Saves Lives



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This article is related to: Food, Organic, Nutrition Facts

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  • Jane Doe

    Is Plumpy Nut manufactured in those same impoverished areas where it also provides jobs for the parents of those children, thereby enabling them to provide for their children the way they no doubt desperately want to but are unable to do so due to the lack of economic opportunity?