Inside the Merck Company Foundation's Nutrition Efforts

The Merck Company Foundation focuses a lot of its grant-giving efforts on diabetes and HIV/AIDS education, as well as overall health and nutrition. Eating healthy and living well seems to be on the agenda for a great number of philanthropic foundations that focus on health. That being said, Merck's Rx to Fight Hunger section on the Foundation's Giving page stood out firstly because it's interesting that a company that manufactures prescription drugs is making an effort to prevent people from getting sick in the first place. Second, because America's Grow a Row is a great effort toward supporting that cause.

First off, I really don't like bandwagons, so I'm avoiding hopping on the big-pharma-is-the-devil-train. That train is full enough. Merck is big pharma, and its Foundation (funded by the company) is a big giver to health initiatives, one of them being Rx to Fight Hunger. Presumably, people that receive the proper nutrition are healthier people overall. America's Grow a Row, a New Jersey based organization, works toward that end by donating millions of dollars' worth of fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need. Merck offered to help in that cause.

America's Grow a Row is displayed on the Merck Company Foundation's Health page, so it was safe to assume that the Foundation's monetary efforts toward forwarding the founder Chip Paillex's cause would be significant. Well, that assumption is unfortunately wrong. The Merck Company Foundation awarded, from what I can find, a mere $12,000 to America's Grow a Row: $10,000 in 2011 and $2,000 in 2012.

For a foundation funded by a company that earned $7 billion in net income, unlike a cucumber picked fresh from the garden, its giving toward healthy living just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. In the Foundation's defense — albeit a small one — it awarded $18 million in health grants in 2010. Of course, that $18 million includes its national and global efforts.