TU alumnus fights world hunger with Two Degrees nutrition

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Who knew a simple little granola bar could make such a difference? That’s what the founders of Two Degrees food bars are asking themselves as they celebrate the success of their product feeding more than 500,000 hungry people..

Less than two years ago, entrepreneur Lauren Walters and his business partner, Will Hauser, came up with the idea to follow the business model of TOMS shoes and participate in a little “social investing.” They developed a nutrition bar product line called Two Degrees and for every bar sold, a nutritional pack is given to a starving child.

Two Degrees Nutrition BarsSince 2011, San Francisco-based Two Degrees has fed more than half a million people … and counting. The business is now a family affair with help from Tulsa native and University of Tulsa alumnus Karen Cadenhead (BFA ’70, MA ’71). As the wife of Lauren Walters and an artist, Karen often helps with artwork for the food bar packaging. The couple’s son also works as a national director for campus distribution, reaching out to universities across the country including TU.

The Two Degrees gluten-free, vegan-friendly nutrition bars are tasty treats but Karen said the social impact of their product is just as important as its quality. Considering hunger is the world’s largest health threat, Two Degrees made it their mission to empower consumers with the ability to help fight a global problem. Working with leading non-profit agencies such as Valid Nutrition and Partners in Health, Two Degrees purchases nutrient rich and medically formulated nutrition packs to send to countries all over the world including Haiti, Kenya, Somalia, India and Malawi. The meals are even produced locally in their region of distribution when possible.

As the nutrition packs are distributed around the world, efforts to promote Two Degrees bars continue in the United States. The nutrition bars are currently sold in coffee shops, grocery stores, bookstores and on more than 75 college campuses across the country. The company’s first big launch was made possible through Whole Foods and Two Degrees bars are now available in all Whole Foods locations. Several other company partnerships have been established allowing for the sale of Two Degrees bars in the corporate lunchrooms of Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s a neat way to create a corporate halo where their employees can contribute to public service,” Karen said.

Karen said her alma mater has not only embraced her husband’s company but also her family. In addition to her TU degrees, both her brother and sister graduated from TU and her father, Ed Cadenhead, taught history there for almost 40 years.

“TU is in our blood and we love that place,” she said.

With strong TU connections, Karen’s family business continues to grow following a basic business model now grabbing the attention of corporate entities everywhere. For every nutritional bar sold, a starving child is fed – a small but powerful step on the family’s road to fight world hunger.

In Tulsa, Two Degrees bars can be found in Petty’s in Utica Square, Coco & Rose Salon, Whole Foods and the Allen Chapman Activity Center on TU’s campus.

Gail Banzet