Why we feed America: Q&A with Thrive Market founder Gunnar Lovelace

Thrive Market CEO Gunnar Lovelace
December 8, 2015

With an open face and an easy grin, Gunnar Lovelace is disarmingly kind, but he's not just another Thriver—he's the original. Lovelace dreamed up Thrive Market a decade ago, inspired by his childhood. Growing up with a single mom who did her best to provide organic, wholesome food for her family, he wondered why foods with an organic label came with an exorbitant price tag.

When Lovelace started his company, he firmly rooted the company’s vision in the mission to make healthy food accessible to all. And not only has his vision been brought to life—Thrive Market offers more than 4,000 products at up to 50% off retail price—but his mission has, too. This holiday season, Thrive Gives teamed up with Feeding America to raise $200,000 for its nationwide network of food banks, and has donated hundreds of thousands of year-long Thrive Gives memberships to food bank volunteers. For Lovelace, "It's just really gratifying to be part of a community that are all working toward the common good." We sat down with the Thrive Market Co-CEO to learn more about the Feeding America partnership.

Thrive Market: Why Feeding America? 

Gunnar Lovelace: I love Feeding America because they're such a monumental organization; they're the third-largest nonprofit in the nation, the largest nonprofit focusing on domestic food issues, and they help so many people every year. We're serious about what we're doing, and we want to reach as many people as possible.

TM: Thrive Market was founded on a social mission. How does this seasonal partnership with Feeding America reflect that?

GL: I love that it's focused around the season of giving. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Taking a moment to be able to give thanks for what we have is so important, and this campaign coincides with a time when so many families aren't in a position to experience this holiday as we typically imagine. It hits home with me—and it's exciting to be able to give back.

TM: Beyond donating during the holiday season, how is Thrive making a difference in terms of hunger in America? 

 GL: This is a long-term effort on our part, and we know that this campaign alone won't end hunger, but it's a start. This is just the beginning for Thrive Gives and the work we envision doing to live up to our mission.

We're working to make healthy living accessible to everybody, and to do that we want to improve price, availability and education. On the price side, we're offering products that previously were too expensive in stores at much lower prices because we sell them at a wholesale price. In terms of availability, we've gotten ourselves down to 2 to 3-day shipping nationally, so even people in food deserts can have access to food. When it comes to education, we're offering essential information in our blog, in our magazine, and our online course "Health Hacks On a Budget"—and opening up a conversation about why these choices matter.

We don't just hand over free memberships and wish people good luck. We want to give them a toolkit to succeed, to be healthy, and to thrive.

TM: What's the most inspiring aspect of holiday giving?

GL: Connecting with the testimonials from our Thrive Gives members. It makes all the struggle, sweat and sacrifice worth it. To hear how something we might consider so small impacts their lives so much—it's enormously gratifying and touching. When we get that context for what we're doing and get to see that it really does make a difference ... I'd happily work 18 hour days every day for the next five years! Connecting to our Thrive Gives families—that's why we do what we do.


Tags: Hunger Heroes , Holiday

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