Before Leighton Meester cemented herself as a TV icon, starring as Blair Waldorf on the hit television series Gossip Girl, the actor found herself relying on government assistance programs as a means to eat. Remembering her roots, the 37-year-old is using her platform to shine a light on food insecurity in America by partnering with GoGo squeeZ benefitting Feeding America.
"Growing up, we relied on food stamps, school lunch programs, and welfare," Leighton exclusively told Distractify. "So I absolutely can relate to putting food back on the shelves at the grocery store, you know, at the end of the month, not necessarily having enough for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, or all three."
The mother-of-two spoke exclusively with Distractify about giving back to the community and how she and her husband Adam Brody are hoping to "lead by example" when it comes to instilling philanthropic values in their kids.
Leighton Meester says she and Adam Brody are on the "same page" when it comes to raising their kids.
Leighton has been working with Feed America for about seven years and loves volunteering to help bring awareness to their important cause.
"I have, you know, a voice and I feel very, very grateful that now I'm in a position where I can use it," the actor told us of how she uses her platform to highlight real-world issues. "I think that I am in a very lucky and unique position where, you know, I have a platform that I can speak about issues that are important to me."
Not only does she inform her social media followers of the important work she's doing, but she and her husband are hoping to show their kids— daughter Arlo, 7, and their son (his name has not been released), 3 — the benefits of giving back to the community.
"When we talk to our kids, especially my older kid who can comprehend concepts a little bit better, you know, we just talk about how grateful we are for everything that we have," Leighton told us of how she explains to her kids the fortunate position they are in compared to other families who may face food insecurity.
"Obviously, when [Arlo's] old enough, I would love for her to volunteer as well," she added. "I think that being able to be face-to-face with people that you're serving [...] and seeing a little bit outside of your own self, it's the most important thing."
Leighton told us that she and Adam have the philosophy of "leading by example and being grateful for what we have."
"Adam and I want to give our kids naturally, like everything, that we never had," the River Wild star continued. "But in doing so you also have to instill in the kids sort of the understanding that not everyone has two cars, and you know, not everyone has, you know, even basic things like being able to pack a school lunch with delicious or nutritious foods."
"So just bringing awareness and also just gratitude," she added.
Though the couple both work in the entertainment industry, Leighton told us that she and her husband are on the "same page" when it comes to the "fundamental elements of bringing up kids."
"We have the same morals and the same goals," she added.