Actor-musician-vegan Maggie Baird, mother of Billie Eilish and Finneas, is expanding her Support + Feed initiative from its Los Angeles base to two other cities, she tells Variety. The goal of the initiative is to feed first responders, senior centers and economically vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis while helping plant-based restaurants stay afloat.
“People need healthy food; restaurants need to stay alive, and these are the restaurants that serve the food that most benefits our planet’s health,” Baird tells Variety of the “win-win” model of combining both needs into one initiative.
Support + Feed expanded into New York three weeks ago and Philadelphia this week. Participating restaurants in Los Angeles include Sage and 14 additional eateries, while New York and Philadelphia have joined with six restaurants in each city, including Marty V’s Burger in the former and HipCityVeg in the latter.
“We’re using a three-city model now,” Baird says. “As need is ever-changing, we can adapt.”
Visit www.supportandfeed.com for more information and to participate or donate. Support + Feed coordinates with restaurants for pickup, and donation centers for delivery.
Baird and her husband Patrick O’Connell — who are widely recognized by their childrens’ fans — are longtime vegans and environmentalists: Billie Eilish’s tours include vegan dining in their rider, and the team works in coordination with the Reverb organization, which aims to minimize the carbon footprint left by touring.
She notes how far plant-based dining has come in recent years. “The early days of being vegetarian meant ordering plain salads with vinaigrette and a baked potato,” she recalls. “You could put the potato in the salad, and, if you were lucky, there were kidney beans.”
Both of her children were raised vegetarian and then vegan. “They never knew any other way,” she says. “People would say my children should have free will to eat meat — my philosophy is that is wrong, not healthy for the planet, animals or people. They learned and embraced all they could, taking gradual steps toward becoming vegan.”
When Billie and Finneas’ extensive 2020 tour was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, she turned her attention to local businesses impacted by the lockdown.
“As I was home, cooking, I worried about restaurants we love,” Baird says. “If people like me aren’t ordering, what are the restaurants doing? What are those in need doing – people on front lines, or the vulnerable they’re aiding? I don’t need $200 worth of food for my family right now, but, what if we ordered that, and sent it to someone who did need it?”
Those questions led her to form Support + Feed, for which she called on support from the Eilish team. “Justin [Lubliner, founder of Darkroom Records], who heads my daughter’s label, and publicist Alexandra [Baker of High Rise PR] said they had the time, and could connect me with the right people going forward.”
On the Earth Day (April 22) edition of Verizon’s “Pay It Forward Live” — a weekly live stream featuring performers in support of small businesses — Eilish and Finneas highlighted participating Support + Feed vegan restaurants and groups affected by the pandemic.
“I am honored to be able to call attention to these local businesses, who have made an impact on my life, and are trying to make the world a better place,” said Eilish in a statement. Finneas and California singer-songwriter Ashe are planning a livestreamed concert highlighting Support + Feed on May 18.