Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Feed USA: Target

Please forgive me in advance. This post was incredibly difficult to write and I completely acknowledge there will be a few moments where I sound like an arrogant ass. I wrote, deleted, cried, re-wrote, deleted some more, and then finally hit publish. I even sent out a few texts asking if what I was about to write was acceptable. 

I've had June 30th penciled in on my calendar since the Target + Feed USA launch date was announced.  I felt a sense of pride when I heard that Lauren Bush's FEED initiative was going to partner with Target for a limited run of items that would benefit Feeding America and provide meals to Americans who needed them most.  

I'm a tremendous fan of the work that the Feed projects have done to provide quality meals to millions of individuals who need food.  There is not a fiber in my body that doesn't truly believe that providing  over 60 million school meals to children around the world is anything less than a miracle and should be heralded for the positive and commendable achievement that it is. I mean that with absolute sincerity.  

My thought process when I first heard of the Feed USA project was: 

Target + feeding Americans = I'll take one of everything! 

The months of buildup finally gave way to the launch date and I was eager to peruse the entire collection and make a few purchases.  From my climate-controled ivory tower I immediately checked out a few of the iconic tote bags and had mentally added a few baseball caps to my cart.  When my cart was ready for checkout my mind quickly second-guessed my purchases and I thought, "I didn't remember reading where any of these items were produced." I then spent the next 30 minutes reviewing the item description for all 100 items in the collection and was repeatedly told that each and every item was imported.  I took a deep breath and reminded myself that website's make errors and it was entirely possible that a few of the items were made in the USA. 

I did what any completely irrational person would do - I went to three different Targets to scope out almost every item in person. 

I didn't find a single item made in the USA. 

Here's what really bugs me. 

1. "USA" is in the product line title.  This is one of my absolute biggest pet-peeves. Don't put "USA" or "NY" in the name and then not make something there. That's just false advertising in my book. 

2. The product launch date of June 30th is the week of July 4th. Really? You launch a product line with "USA" in the name the same calendar week as America's most important holiday and not a single item is made in the USA. OUCH! 

3. The blatant misrepresentation of where the products are made because the product colors and imagery further perpetuate the image that the products are made in the USA. A bag with patriotic red, white, and blue colors that contains an image of the USA (minus Alaska and Hawaii) and adorned with brass snaps? If that doesn't proclaim "USA! USA! USA!" then I don't know what does.  

4. Current Feed USA bags available for purchase on the Feed Projects website are made in the USA.  You'll have a very difficult time convincing me that the bags made for this initiative were incapable of being produced in the USA when other Feed USA bags are made in the USA. This just reinforces my first and third points that the products available at Target are misleading.

5. The stats don't help. 1 in 6 Americans are affected by hunger. The Feed USA website states this as plain as day.  You know what could help the 50 million Americans that do not have dependable access to enough food due to limited money and resources? JOBS! Manufacturing jobs like making the items in this collection would do a tremendous amount of good for the long-term sustainability of this country.  The skills developed in making the shirts could continue to work in the growing American textile industry.  Instead, money was sent to China and Indonesia to create these goods, but Americans are expected to purchase the items in order to have a tiny bit of the funds directed back to their countrymen. 

Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I was living in a fairy tale. Both points are most likely true.  I know people will say, "why does it matter where the items were made if the proceeds are going to help people?"  

I get that. I honestly do. And I'm not saying that the individuals who made these products in China and Indonesia should be put out of their jobs.  We're all people of one world and every person in the world is trying the best they can to do what's best for them and provide for their family. That's a universal connection that isn't unique to any one country or group in the world. 

When I advocate for purchasing American made items I don't mean it as an arrogant, "well screw you rest of the world!" I buy American because I believe in labor standards and I believe that America has some of the most advanced labor standards (please note - I did not say "the most advanced") and there are other parts of the world where labor standards are severely lacking. I don't want to think that an individual put their life at risk to make my tee shirt because they happened to work in a factory that wasn't built properly or they're working for pennies a day. 

I had lofty goals and expectations for this iniative. Maybe during Feed's next major endeavor they'll include provisions to make products in the same country that they are working to support and that way they'll be able to make their impact even greater.

But you know what - at the end of the day I'll buy this Feed USA bag because it's made in the USA and provides support to local communities.  I'll most likely end up buying an item from the Target collaboration because I want to support businesses in any endeavor that benefits Americans. 

For more information on how you can help Feeding America please click here. For more information on how to donate to Feeding America please click here

What are your thoughts on the Feed USA Target collaboration? 


  1. I agree that it's sad that none of the items are made in the USA. The thought is in the right place but you would think that Lauren Bush would be a little more plugged in about American manufacturing and it's impact, no?

  2. Thanks for sharing this info! I agree with everything u said!

  3. Thank you so much for pointing this out, its important!


  4. I totally agree with you. Thanks for blogging about this.

  5. I totally agree! Which is partly why I haven't bought anything yet.

  6. I'm really late to the party, but I LOVE this. I too was perplexed by this line when I saw it in Target not too long ago. Unfortunately it seems like a lot of supposedly eco-friendly brands or brands that claim to support a good cause turn a blind eye when it comes to the manufacturing process. You pointed out the duality so well. Thank you for this post!

    1. Sade - you're never late to this party! Thank you for your kind comment. I was apprehensive about writing this post because I saw both sides of the issue.

  7. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my website.
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