“We’re not a company with a mission,” says This Saves Lives cofounder Todd Grinnell, pictured here (third from left) with partners Kristen Bell, Ryan Devlin , and Ravi Patel. “We’re a mission with a company.”
A while back, two “millennial” buddies with successful entertainment careers decided to step outside their comfort zones and take a humanitarian trip to Liberia to rebuild a bridge for a small community. Once there, a visit to a refugee camp slammed them into a brutal awareness of the worldwide hunger crisis. Surrounded by helpless children dying of malnutrition, they decided to help.
Todd Grinnell, known for his role in Netflix’s One Day at a Time, and Ryan Devlin, who plays Mercer Hayes on Veronica Mars, enlisted the aid of two good friends to create a company that would help them achieve their goal. With actors Kristen Bell and Ravi Patel enthusiastically joining the crusade, they planned to provide therapeutic “Plumpy’Nut” packets (a peanut-based paste) to malnourished children throughout the world. But how best to accomplish this?
The Passion: Ending Childhood Malnutrition
Their solution: Develop and manufacture the best-tasting snack bars in the world, and make them “one for one”—for every bar sold, a packet of lifesaving food would be given to a child. “We’re not a company with a mission,” Grinnell says. “We’re a mission with a company!”
And to make sure that mission was clear, they named their product This Saves Lives. Devlin’s kitchen became the testing ground for endless iterations of snack bar recipes, searching for the perfect combination of clean, premium ingredients and appealing flavors. “I tried all of those bars, and was deemed ‘Chief Taste Officer,’” Bell laughingly reveals.
Even after moving into production, the company experienced serious setbacks. On one occasion, they decided to scrap 100,000 bars because the recipe just wasn’t quite right. Patel recalls, “I thought we were going out of business—a moment that happened several times!”
But they stayed focused on their mission above all else. For Grinnell, “It wasn’t about how many units sold, but how many children we fed.” They partnered with several established nonprofits, including Action Against Hunger and Second Mile Haiti, and forged ahead.
Now the bars can be found at more than 16,000 locations across the U.S., including Starbucks nationwide. And those Plumpy’Nut packets? More than 11 million have found their way to malnourished children, with more being generated every minute.
“I will never forget the looks of despair on the faces of the moms the first time I saw children with severe acute malnutrition,” says Grinnell. Remembering their faces and their children every day keeps us striving to do more and to do better—because everyone deserves the chance to thrive.”
Web exclusive recipe!
This Quick Tropical Breakfast Crunchie is a creamy way to start the day. Visit betternutrition.com for the recipe, featuring This Saves Lives Madagascar Vanilla Honey & Almond Bars.