Fashion meets philanthropy through Adventurist Backpack Co.’s partnership with Feeding America, a non-profit that focuses on feeding people across the United States through food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Co-founders of Adventurist Backpack Co, Kelly Belknap and Matilda Sandstroem, made the decision to help feed families through their business shortly after its launch in September of 2017 after witnessing and meeting with families who were struggling with hunger. Wanting to do their part to help, the couple prepared meals every morning during their travels and filled their backpacks with food to hand out to anyone who needed it throughout the day.
Belknap stated, “After returning home to the U.S. and knowing there are still so many families in need in our own communities and cities, Adventurist Backpack Co. was officially started. On these adventures that led us around the world and sparked our mission to give back, the amount of meals that we were able to fit into our backpacks was 25 each. Today, we continue providing 25 meals from each backpack sold.”
Adventurist Backpack Co. remains passionate about giving back through their business claiming, “We’re here to show that our generation means business and is getting out there and solving the problems at hand with resources we have available. No one should be going hungry in 2019, just as a backpack made of high-quality fabric and zippers shouldn’t be marked up to cost over $100. These are just two things we found we could work on doing better.”
Noticing that a number of students are struggling with hunger too, Belknap and Sanstroem have taken their mission to college campuses across America. In addition to partnering with Feeding America, the two are working with 13 universities to help provide nutrition to food-insecure students. The colleges include UC Berkeley, University of Oregon, University of Wisconsin, University of Arkansas, Colorado State University, North Carolina State University — just to name a few.
Belknap and Sandstroem explain how they work with colleges to help, saying, “For example, with Colorado State University, we partner with their Rams Against Hunger program in order to donate an additional percentage of net profits from each backpack sale to help provide ‘meal swipes’ so that food-insecure students are able to eat at the dining halls on campus and also have access to a mobile food pantry.” Within this program, in particular, there are currently around 2,800 students who have experienced food insecurity and are involved.
“Through our partnership with Feeding America, we’ve now provided over 92,000 meals to families in need across the U.S.,” says Belknap. He continued, “As far as meals specifically provided to students, the number is around 7,500.” The two entrepreneurs’ main goal is helping to feed both students and families in need to ensure that they are able to reach their full potential. Making sure they don’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from is a priority.
Adventurist Backpack Co. is open to working with any and all students and schools across the nation, hoping to start even more partnerships with universities in the semesters and schools years to come. According to Belknap, schools usually have a program that they have already put together to right student food insecurity on campus, which gives Belknap and Sandstroem an opportunity to provide meals to anyone who needs them in the most efficient way possible.
Hoping to inspire a passion for travel in others, provide them with the best backpack they’ve ever owned and fight hunger while doing it, Belknap and Sandstroem said, “Our goal is to provide a quarter-million meals to students and families in need by the end of our third year in business next fall.” The two believe that it is every company’s responsibility to give back in order to solve basic problems around our country and around the world. “We aim to be at the forefront of brands using business to do something larger than just provide a great product or service, but to help change the world for the better through entrepreneurship.”
Photography by August Sandstroem, Alexandra Kentsdottir and Adventurist Backpack Co.