Good energy, hopeful wishes and plant-based treats nourished the intimate crowd of invited guests at Support+Feed’s first-ever annual fundraiser and dinner in Los Angeles on Oct. 24. The plant-based food initiative founded by Billie Eilish and Finneas’ mother, Maggie Baird, brought together influential activists, philanthropists and artists for a night of awareness on environmental issues, the climate crisis and sustainability.
“Here’s a roomful of people who all care – and every single person in this room is doing so much,” Baird told the room after bestowing Inspiration Awards to Janelle Monáe and environmental educator and activist Isaias Hernandez. “There are so many incredible community organizations, many volunteers, many companies that are changing the way we function… So many incredible artists have lent their platforms, not only their financial support and their actions.”
More from Variety
Baird, along with Support+Feed’s executive director, Allison Kingsley, expressed their gratitude further stating: “I’m just beyond moved. Grateful to all of you that we have something we genuinely can celebrate in this moment of darkness,” in relation to the harsh reality of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
After being awarded for her long-standing commitment to activism and her initiative Wondalunch, which in partnership with Support+Feed provided meals and pantry items to families across Los Angeles, Monáe delivered a heart-warming speech about what it means to “be of service.” She spoke of her grandmother, mother, stepfather and father as working-class citizens who served their communities.
“I am a child of service,” she told the crowd pointedly. “I remember what it was like not to have food on the table. What is it like what it was like for Thanksgiving and Christmas, to have to get canned goods from your church, or the Salvation Army, or an aunt or your grandmother — I remember that. I remember the stigma of what it was to be poor and how we treated poor people. I remember being embarrassed using my mother’s EBT card… and so all I’ve wanted to do and what I wanted to do with Support + Feed and with Wondalunch, is to erase that narrative.”
Hernandez gave a similar heart-warming speech after being recognized for his outstanding contribution to raising awareness on the access, equity and cultural nuances of plant-based eating. Support+Feed’s own Julie Schmid was also recognized for her dedication to volunteerism shortly after Eilish and Finneas accepted their awards — despite telling the audience they “demanded” not to be recognized.
“Contributing financially has felt like a deep cheat code compared to how much other people have contributed to this,” Finneas said. “Here’s what actually happened: Billie and I made a bunch of music in our bedroom. We got rich and we paid off our mom’s mortgage and she turned around and started a non-profit immediately.”
He then recounted the moment it all began, “right when the pandemic started… I said something like, ‘It must be nice to have all this free time now that we aren’t touring,’ and she was like ‘I have this idea to find a way to keep all of the vegan restaurants in LA open and also send all the food to hospital workers and people in the hospital anyone who can access it.”
Eilish echoed Finneas’ gratitude for their mother and the volunteers in her own way, admitting to the crowd she was and had been in a “bad mood” even in the moments leading up to her joining her mother on stage, “but what I’m saying is that I’ve been sitting over there and… when you’re in a bad mood, everything pisses you off, and everything is lame — especially if your parents have to do with it but I’ve been sitting there, and I’ve been looking at you guys, and I’ve been looking at everyone here. And I’ve been looking at my mom and I’m thinking ‘Damn, she did that.'”
She then turned to Baird, directly telling her that she “aspires to be more like you and this is such an incredible thing that you have done,” before leaning in for an embrace. “Look at all these people who support you and all the people around the world who support you. It is such an amazing thing. And I’m so impressed by you. And I’m so proud of you,” she concluded.
Additional special guests included RJ Cutler, who directed Eilish’s 2021 film “The World’s a Little Blurry,” Gwenna Hunter, the founder of Vegans of LA, and actresses Amanda Kloots and Alicia Silverstone, to name a few.
Producer Benny Blanco, who has donated crops from his own home-grown farm to Support+Feed, introduced the sole performer of the evening: 18-year-old D4vd, who took a break from supporting SZA’s North American “SOS” tour to perform an acoustic set comprised of his moody lullabies. He is just one of the few artists who have joined the organization’s Plant-Based Pledge which encourages people to eat at least one plant-based meal a day for 30 days.
He was there on behalf of the Interscope-led Darkroom record label, one of the many sponsors of the evening, also including Interscope Records, Live Nation, Main Street Advisors, Wasserman Foundation and WhatIF Foods.
Ahead of the program, guests enjoyed the generous donation of drinks by APB and delicious plant-based sushi by Niku Nashi. Some of the ingredients for the food and drinks were prepared with the plant-based offerings of companies like WhatIF Foods, who donated their BAMnut milk to make delicious matcha drinks. Guests were also able to participate in a silent auction that boasted cooking classes with renowned chefs and even a plate of Maggie Baird’s much-buzzed-about cinnamon rolls.
Since its inception in 2020, Support+Feed has been steadily expanding and has reached 41 cities globally, with a hand in 11 cities across the U.S., and is now expanding through partnerships in the EU, UK and Australia. The organization has distributed nearly 400,000 plant-based meals and pantry items alongside educational programming to underserved communities, per a press release. They’ve partnered with Eilish and Paramore as well as festivals such as Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water and Lollapalooza.
Best of Variety