Due to a host of factors — including sedentary lifestyles, junk food, and sugary drinks — obesity among children is an epidemic in the United States. What does this mean for the health of the nation? Well, for starters, obesity diminishes quality of life, exposing children to conditions and diseases previously rare among the young. It also puts a significant strain on an already overburdened health-care system. As pointed out by the Children's Defense Fund, obese children's risk of hospitalization is more than three times that of non-obese children. Moreover, obesity during childhood puts individuals at an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases in adulthood.
The good news is that there are literally hundreds of organizations committed to alleviating childhood obesity. Massachusetts-based ChopChopKids, the non-profit arm of ChopChop: The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families, is one of them. Its vision is "to reverse and prevent childhood obesity and hunger" by encouraging and teaching children to "cook and eat real food with their families." Available in English and Spanish, the quarterly magazine is distributed to more than 2 million families each year. It provides recipes that are healthy, tasty, affordable, and ethnically diverse. In addition, it incorporates games, puzzles, fun food facts, and interviews with "healthy heroes." The fact that ChopChop is "prescribed" by half of U.S. pediatricians is a testament to its quality, as is the endorsement of First Lady Michelle Obama, who provided a recipe for one issue of the magazine.
Happily, the New Balance Foundation has just given ChopChopKids a $750,000 grant for two years. The funding will allow ChopChop to expand its distribution of the magazine to children. (See New Balance Foundation: Boston Area Grants.)
This grant is part of New Balance's wider strategy to tackle childhood obesity, its priority area. With annual giving of roughly $6 million a year, New Balance provides grants ranging from as little as $100 to as much as $900,000. The foundation does not make more than one award per organization per year, and it generally favors proposals for specific programs over operating expenses. While the application process is fairly straightforward — new grantseekers are required to submit one-page concept papers — New Balance limits its grants to Massachusetts (Boston and Lawrence) and Maine (Norway, Norridgewock, and Skowhegan). If you specialize in child obesity prevention and happen to be located in either of these states, New Balance is a definite funder to consider.