A collection of 77 actors (Mike Myers, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Earl Jones), musicians (Michael Stipe, Tony Bennett, the Ting Tings), writers (Ruth Reichl, Salman Rushdie), chefs (Mario Batali, Rachael Ray), designers (Diane von Furstenberg, Heatherette), artists (Yoko Ono), and TV show casts (Gossip Girl) plus cookbook author/restauranteur/local food advocate Alice Waters all designed lunchboxes for The Lunchbox Fund this year to be auctioned for the charity.

The Lunchbox Fund feeds poor schoolchildren in Soweto, South Africa thereby helping to keep them in school and greatly lessening their chances of unwanted pregnancy and contracting HIV. As the charity is run entirely by volunteers, all proceeds go directly to feeding the children. 

From the official description of Cameron Diaz's green-themed lunchbox entry: "One side shows remnants from an environmentally friendly lunch: a Whole Foods lunch packet with a metal fork. The other is the opposite: paper and plastic waste, including juice box." There's also a brown tag with the handwritten message "WASTE NOT."

Is it just me, or did Cameron Diaz glue the garbage left over from her lunch to a tin box and start the bidding at $100?

The white-painted and gold-markered lunch box from Eva Mendes reads, "This is not a lunch box," in a nod to the "I am not a plastic bag" catchphrase on the hit reusable eco shopping tote by Anya Hindmarch.

No complaints here about celebrities lending their names to get more money to charities, but this is one case where I doubt some of the celebs' actual involvement in the designing and execution of their respective entries. But whether their assistant or assistant's assistant made these lunch boxes or not, the proceeds still go to feeding poor children.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali, for his part, sells planet-friendly durable, reusable, insulated lunch bags to benefit New York City's Food Bank, and a portion also goes to the Lunchbox Fund. Batali can feel good about the fact that his bags benefit the planet and mouths at home and abroad.

Story by Colleen Kane. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in December 2008.

Copyright Enrivon Press 2008

Diaz and other stars help fight hunger
Proceeds from green lunch boxes and bags help feed hungry children.