In hard times and better days, Kellogg’s feeds the world
When a 7.2 earthquake devastated Haiti, the Kellogg Company was among the first U.S. corporations on the ground and ready to help, donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross to support relief and rescue efforts.
That was in 2010. Since then the global food giant has built an extensive network of community-led initiatives, alliances and nonprofits across Haiti. When a second earthquake struck 11 years later—on August 14, 2021—many of those grantees were positioned to move quickly to provide aid in the worst-hit areas. Build Health International, for example, partnered with local healthcare providers to repair damaged clinics and hospitals and set up a temporary trauma center; Hope for Haiti provided desperately needed clean water and wound care at its infirmary in southern Haiti. There were dozens more.
While Haiti struggles to rebuild, hundreds of thousands of people have been caught up in natural disasters and humanitarian crises elsewhere in the world. Kellogg’s is there.
Since July, the company has donated more than 2.2 million servings of food—directly and through local NGOs—to flood victims in the Americas and Europe, to Afghan refugees arriving in Europe, and to families impacted by wildfires in the western U.S. The company today partners with food banks on six continents, sponsoring drives to stock community food pantries and feed those facing dire shortages. In the last year-and-a-half, Kellogg’s has also donated more than $18 million in food and funds to global relief efforts in response to the pandemic.
This is a company that has built its brand—and a vast global presence—on a commitment to serving the common good, especially in hard times. Indeed, the very impetus for its founding was human betterment: In Michigan in the 1890s, as superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, John Harvey Kellogg and his brother spent their off hours searching for a way to improve patients’ diet. Their work led to the invention of corn flakes and, in 1906, to the formation of what would later become The Kellogg Company. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Kellogg cut back the shifts in most of its factories from 40 to 30 hours in order to create more jobs.
Then, as now, much of Kellogg’s philanthropy—and that of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation—was geared toward food and feeding those in need. To be sure, this is hardly a modern virtue. As Carpenter Group sees it, sharing food is an act of kindness as old as human existence—one with the power to change lives. It is Kellogg’s brand promise and its legacy.
“It may seem small in the grand scheme of it all,” says CEO Steve Cahillane, “but I’m proud that our foods can serve up even the smallest amount of comfort to our friends, family and neighbors when they need it most.” Kellogg’s purpose, as set forth in its website, is “to create better days and a place at the table for everyone through our trusted food brands.” In 2013, the company launched a “Better Days” initiative with a view to committing 45,000 employee and retiree volunteer days at community food banks, farms and breakfast programs. This year, the company announced an expanded Better Days commitment, pledging to feed 375 million people in need through food donations and expanded child feeding programs by 2030.
At the center of the Kellogg’s brand is the primacy of children. Indeed, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm, came into being in 1930 as the W.K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation and today pursues “lasting, transformational change for children” through grantmaking, impact investing, networking and other modalities. One means of achieving that goal is through participation in the United Nations “Zero Hunger” initiative to end hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture.
As John Harvey Kellogg saw more than a century ago, hunger and malnutrition can be solved through determination and human ingenuity. The same holds true today. “The world produces enough food for everyone,” notes the Kellogg Foundation’s website. “No one needs to go hungry.”
About Brand Acts of Kindness®
Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.
The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.
About Carpenter Group
Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.
Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.