Kellogg as Sponsor

[Kellogg Foundation and Trust Financial Statement for 2013]

The idea of Kellogg as a sponsor is complicated because several different entities are involved. Yesterday, Childhood Obesity News mentioned the many programs backed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In the 2013 fiscal year, the foundation gave away $259,898,647 worth of grants. It gets most of its money from the yearly earnings of the W. K. Kellogg Trust.

The illustration on this page, extracted from the “2013 Kellogg Foundation and Trust Financial Statements,” shows that among its nearly $8 billion in assets, the trust owns close to $4.5 billion in Kellogg Company common stock, which accounts for about half of the trust’s wealth. Via the trust, the foundation is the Kellogg Company’s biggest stockholder, owning about 22% of the food manufacturer’s total shares. The “History and Legacy” section of the Kellogg Foundation website says:

In 2007, the foundation also became one of a small group of foundations seeking to use its assets more effectively while preserving and growing its endowment. Under a pilot program of mission driven investments, the foundation is investing assets in a way that realizes both financial and social returns, a concept also known as ‘double bottom-line investing.’

This is why the financial statement also shows nearly $3 billion in “diversified investments,” which could be anything — but hopefully, not more corporations that also make cereal and snacks. In support of the Institute for Professional Education (IPE) during the 2014-2016 time period, the foundation gave it $300,000. IPE’s purpose is to:

Advance current research and best practice for addressing childhood obesity by producing a journal and e-newsletter focused on culturally sensitive, evidence-based prevention, treatment and management.

IPE characterizes itself as a provider of “end to end solutions for 21st century professional development” and lists the following professional credentials:

  • Manage and develop CME conferences
  • Access to world-renowned scientific expertise
  • Access to highest level policy makers
  • Working relationship with major universities, scientific institutions, and foundations worldwide

In other words, this is where funding originates for the journal Childhood Obesity and for the e-publication Briefings in Childhood Obesity. Under the heading “A Briefings Partner,” the newsletter on its main page lists only one sponsor, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. If there are others, they are not mentioned here.

Because of the Kellogg Foundation’s support, the journal can afford to give free subscriptions to public schools, community-based organizations, officials, and other community health-oriented people who need to know these things. So basically, a corporation that makes processed food creates the financial possibility to share its opinions about obesity with the people.

None of this is illegal, but there is a potential for mischief, because that process only accounts for half of the unease felt by some observers about the seemingly beneficent activity of paying for these publications.

Next… the other half of the unease.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Investor FAQs,” Kelloggs.com, undated
Source: “History & Legacy,” WKKF.org, undated
Source: “Institute for Professional Education,” WKKF.org, 2014
Source: “The Institute for Professional Education,” instituteforprofessionaled.org, undated
Source: “Briefings in Childhood Obesity,” LiebertPubMail.com, undated
Image by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

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