New Balance gives $1.1 million to child health magazine

Posted Dec. 17, 2010, at 1:32 p.m.
ajanerka

BANGOR, Maine — New Balance, the shoe manufacturing company that operates three factories in Maine, has donated $1.1 million to ChopChop, a nonprofit magazine upstart aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

The grant, which will be given to the magazine over the course of three years, will be used primarily for printing as many copies as possible, said ChopChop founder Sally Sampson.

“We’re trying to reach every kid in the United States,” she said. “We’re only on our third issue, and it’s going incredibly well.”

Since March, the quarterly magazine’s circulation has increased from 150,000 to 250,000, and the demand is at least twice that. The skyrocketing subscription numbers are attracting attention.

“More serious people are starting to look at us,” Sampson said. “What the New Balance money does is it allows us to not worry about every penny that comes in. Our commitment to them is to distribute in low-income areas. ChopChop is given away wherever kids are.”

Molly Santry, charitable programs manager for New Balance, said the company’s charitable foundation identified childhood obesity as its target more than 10 years ago.

“We were really a leader in identifying childhood obesity as an epidemic and a major health issue,” said Santry, who said the foundation’s annual giving has averaged $6 million in recent years. “We’ve looked to fund everything from research to treatment to grassroots intervention. ChopChop struck us as a very credible project. It’s fun and engaging for an audience trying to reach.”

The Winter 2010 edition of ChopChop features recipes for Hearty Irish Oatmeal and Squashy Chili, a playful analysis of white rice versus brown rice, and an interview with first lady Michelle Obama titled “Veggies We Love!”

Santry said New Balance and ChopChop, both of which are based in Boston, came together through a network of shared acquaintances who are focusing on similar work. The beauty of that, according to Sampson, is that all of those organizations can help distribute the magazine, including New Balance, which will have copies available at its stores.

For more information about ChopChop or to subscribe, visit the organization’s website at www.chopchopmag.com.

ChopChop, which calls itself the fun cooking magazine for kids and families, is given away mostly for free at pediatrician offices and organizations that fight childhood obesity. The organization also sells single subscriptions and bulk orders.

Sampson said she appreciates New Balance not only for the money it gives away, but for what it is trying to do with that money.

“We sort of felt like this is a perfect union,” Sampson said. “They really care about obesity, and that makes me really want to buy their sneakers. When you do that, you are really contributing to a lot of great work.”

ChopChop has a limited circulation in Maine, though Santry said it will soon be distributed through other New Balance grant recipients, including Move More Kids in Somerset County and LET’S GO! 5210, a school-based program that teaches proper nutrition.

“We want to reverse the trend of childhood obesity,” said Santry. “We think this magazine is a great tool for that.”

CORRECTION: New Balance operates three factories in Maine.

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