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Laila Ali and Feeding America Give Back to the Community

Laila Ali and Feeding America Give Back to the Community

World-class athlete, fitness and wellness advocate, author, television host, and home chef Laila Ali is no stranger to hard work. As the daughter of the late icon and humanitarian Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali has built a lifestyle brand and is the most successful female in the history of women’s boxing. In other words, she’s the best to ever do it.

Ali has teamed up with Feeding America, an organization that feeds nearly 50 million people through food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters. At a recent Volunteer Day, Ali donated hundreds of spices from her personal line to the community.

BGN had the pleasure of speaking with Ali via phone to talk more about Feeding America, what has inspired her entrepreneurial journey, and why, as a Black woman, it’s important to uplift and build up the community.

Your entrepreneurial journey seems very intentional, from organic spices to your home collection and skin-care line — all focused on health and wellness and living a purposeful life. What has been your inspiration toward this path and why is it important to you?

I learned about health and wellness through becoming an athlete. My mom was very healthy when I was growing up, and my dad obviously, being an athlete. But when I became an athlete myself, I started figuring out what it would take to be the best. It took not only training and learning how to fight but also eating the right foods so that I could perform at my best. I started to learn how what I ate affected my performance, and everything that went into it holistically.

Once I wasn’t fighting anymore and became a mom, I started figuring out what was the best way to nourish my children, outside of my own breast milk. Then I started getting into organic and non-GMO and how to use the cleanest products and eat the best-quality food.

Everyone has a different budget and has to make different choices, but I am very intentional about making those decisions. When I started my own brand, it was about educating others. A lot of people just don’t know what they don’t know. I wanted to make sure, since I know, that I was offering products to the public that were going to be good for them and enhance their lives.  I’m glad you noticed that, because that’s what the Laila Ali lifestyle is all about.

When we talk about health and wellness, we have to acknowledge those who do not have access to the basics like food. Can you talk about how you became involved with Feeding America and more about Volunteer Day, which you participated in?

We all know that there are people that need assistance; I’ve known that since I was a child. But I was astonished at the number of families here in our country that need help. Feeding America estimates that at least one in five people turned to charitable food assistance in the United States in 2020 — a 50% increase from the previous year. The numbers keep rising. This is something that is sad to see, especially with so much waste that we all have. People really need to be aware.

I wasn’t aware at one point, until I realized Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger relief organization and I was able to connect with them in my own city, like when I lived in California, to help spread awareness. I think a lot of times people just don’t realize how many people need help. If we all chip in, more people can be fed. We can also have gratitude for what we have and stop wasting as much as we do.

With my name and likeness, there are opportunities to get involved with different organizations. But I get involved with the ones that are most natural for me and I feel connected to. Anything to do with kids and kids’ suffering, I hold dear to my heart. I’m looking at families that may not have been struggling last year but are struggling this year, and it really inspired me — now that I’ve relocated to Georgia — to connect with some of the food pantries. I wanted to donate some of my spice blends, and they just made it happen. They hadn’t had spices specifically for a long time, so everyone was very appreciative.

What are some of your suggestions for people who want to help but just don’t know how?

When people face hunger, they also struggle with other basic needs as well, such as housing, employment, and healthcare. So, it goes way beyond. A lot of the pantries rely on the community to make donations. They will not be able to keep providing unless the community comes together. Every single dollar counts.

As Black women, it’s almost ingrained in us to be the backbone of our families, the church, and the communities in which we live. As a celebrity, you are able to have a wider platform. As a Black woman and mother, why is it important for you to be centered in uplifting and building the community?

I like to do what’s in my heart, and I want to help others around me. I want my children to see me giving back. I think that’s something everyone should do. The bigger the platform you have, the more you should do. People give in many different ways — donations, time, or using their social media to amplify messaging. But I truly believe in family, and I believe each individual needs to be strong.

Oftentimes, as Black women, we have been in situations where we had no choice but to be strong. We do have to wear all these hats, and we do an amazing job at it. To me, you have to make do with what you can. I just believe everything starts in the home. Our children are watching us — how we treat ourselves and others. It’s not just thinking about yourself but seeing the bigger picture. We are all connected. I’m always going to be a strong woman; I don’t know any other way to be.

As we talked about legacy, Ali mentioned her father and how he never backed down from what he believed in. We know him as the greatest in the boxing ring, but we also know him as a humanitarian who loved and cared for his people. She is honoring her father’s life and preparing a legacy of her own. Ali is super excited about launching her new YouTube cooking show. Her house in Atlanta has a second kitchen, and a team is in place ready to start filming. We are definitely here for it.

Although she does not fight competitively anymore, Ali is still an inspiration for so many. Fans can purchase boxing paraphernalia on her website, and 100% of the proceeds go to organizations that she supports, including Feeding America.

For all things Laila Ali, visit her website here.

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