TODAY   |  November 15, 2012

Visit to Rwanda inspires a new beginning at 57

When Lauren Walters visited Rwanda at the age of 57 and saw the hunger there, he was inspired to do something to help. He has since joined up with the son of a friend, Will Hauser, 23, to start Two Degrees, which donates a meal to a hungry child for every food bar they sell. TODAY’s Jane Pauley reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> got your life calling today. jane has been working with aarp which produced and sponsored our series of reports. this morning, a man trying to help children all around the world. jane , good morning.

>> good morning, matt. lauren walters ' career has been so varied, health care , government service, but he was looking for something more, more meaningful. well, he got a call from a friend who felt exactly the same way. walters was 57, his friend was 23. lauren walters yearned to put a lifetime of experience to good work.

>> i felt frustrated i wasn't having the kind of impact i thought i could.

>> the seed of an idea was planted when he visited rwanda.

>> going out into a village i saw kids who were hungry. just on an ongoing basis.

>> reporter: but he also saw children eating from squeezable pouchs.

>> and i knew there was something you could do to treat malnourished kids, which were these nutrition packs, but there was a supply problem.

>> reporter: for three years, he thought about it.

>> for me, ideas simmer.

>> reporter: but he wasn't thinking about starting a business. until 23-year-old will howser called. the son of a good friend, he too was looking for something more.

>> i wanted to start a business doing something entrepreneurial but also doing something that gives back in some way.

>> reporter: two degrees, a food bar was an idea whose time had come.

>> when consumers are given a choice between doing something which has a cause related to it as opposed to just the product, they'll choose something that has a cause.

>> reporter: here's how it works.

>> for every bar that is sold, we purchase and donate a meal to a hungry child somewhere in the world .

>> so i buy the bar --

>> and a nutrition pack is given to a malnourished kid. and it's a dense peanut butter paste.

>> and that's exactly how the kid eats it.

>> it is. exactly. it tastes pretty good.

>> but the food bar has to taste good too.

>> sunflower butter.

>> i do too.

>> reporter: despite lauren 's diverse background, the food business was all new.

>> hi, how can i help? how do we market, how do we brand? i never created a brand for anything and neither did will.

>> a real person on there, a real child, i think is huge, stops you in your tracks.

>> he's tapped a 20-something brain trust pumped with ideas.

>> we span a generation gap . we think about things differently, we're connected to different networks of people. we see things differently. i think for us, it's been an enormous asset to the company.

>> reporter: they recruited an army of sales reps at 75 colleges. and activated lauren 's vast network of connections. soon, they were in every whole foods store in the country.

>> and this is almond, you can try one of these. you can. right in here.

>> reality check.

>> i thought it would be easier than it is. it's hard.

>> reporter: today the bar is in 1,000 stores, but lauren thinks he'll need 10,000 to succeed.

>> i'm really optimistic. and we've donated about 500,000 meals so far.

>> that's impressive.

>> the other thing i've learned that i've given to the young people is to imagine that anything is possible.

>> by the end of this year, lauren expects to have distributed 750,000 meals to nonprofit partners around the world. lauren walters is our 28th story in our series. if you have reimagined your life after 50, let us know. maybe we'll tell your story in 2013 . go to aarp.org/ jane .

>> my favorite part is these people from two different generations are teaming up and sharing their expertise. thanks very much.