Those familiar with Nikki Reed's story (dramatically rendered in the 2003 film Thirteen) are aware that she experienced a turbulent home life. Growing up with a single mom in L.A., procuring healthy meals was a near-constant struggle. "Talk of organic versus non-organic never existed," she recently told InStyle over the phone. “We just assumed there was no distinction.” Now, the philanthropic actress is becoming increasingly vocal about the issue of chronic hunger by partnering with Thrive Market, the members-only online retailer of health-conscious food, home goods, and bath and beauty products, to spread awareness about nutritious food to families in need. For each membership purchased via the site, Thrive will sponsor a low-income family, and, now through Jan. 1, customers can give an additional donation to Feeding America at checkout. We spoke with Reed about the new initiative and why it resonates with her.
Both you and your husband, Ian Somerhalder, are involved in a slew of charitable organizations. Was philanthropy always a common interest in the relationship?
Ian and I have been friends for almost nine years now. When we were first introduced through our acting coach, Ivana Chubbuck, she said, "You guys have the same mind and the same goals—you are going to be best friends!" At the time, I was 17, and he was 10 years older than me, so she had to say "best friends." Being together has given us both the opportunity to focus on the things that are important to us because we know we have a partner in crime.
Why is hunger an issue you're so eager to address?
For many years now, I've been passionate about learning more about our food system and what we put in our bodies. I grew up in a single-parent household, and we did the best that we could. Ian was actually the one who first introduced me to Thrive, and once he did, I became totally inspired by this group of people who came together with intentions that totally mirrored mine.
What attracts you to Thrive specifically?
Society has created this massive divide between people who can afford to eat well and people who cannot afford to eat well. Thrive acknowledges what is and isn't healthy and sells everything at an affordable price. It's that forward-thinking attitude that's inclusive instead of exclusive that creates the power we need to make a difference. There isn't always an organic grocery store around the corner.
You've worked with Feeding America for many years now. How have you seen the fight evolve?
It's difficult to understand what we're actually putting into our bodies and what is available to us. As technology grows and our ability to have access to that information grows, we're able to make better choices. With the advent of social media, all of that information is so much more accessible. You're no longer subjected to whatever your immediate surroundings are.