Grading Geltanthropy: The Case of Kellogg’s

Yes, that’s my coinage: gelt-anthropy, n. the wedding of a corporation’s pecuniary interest to the public’s philanthropic spirit.

Hungry kids: we all know about them. We hate the idea of eight million American children living in extreme poverty. We shudder to think that as many as one in five American kids is not fed adequately and may go to bed hungry. We cringe at the idea that for so many of our youngest, getting a free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch at school is such a nutritional lifeline—literally.

The people at Kellogg’s know all this, of course. The breakfast cereal giant (also the maker of Pringles, Cheez-It, Famous Amos, and other healthful treats) wants to tap into that compassion. And now they are doing it in a spectacular way, with a splashy campaign called Share the Power of Breakfast.

All we have to do is tweet, pin, share, or FB the project, and presto: one child will supposedly receive a breakfast “through [Kellogg’s] participation in the National School Breakfast Program,” USDA’s worthy operation.

There’s no fine print. Nowhere can you learn exactly how much Kellogg donates for every social media hit, when or how they deliver the money, or how they can be held accountable. Wouldn’t we like to know more about how the inventors of those uber-nutritious Froot Loops and Coco Pops plan to feed our young, thanks to America’s heartfelt clicks?

I like watching Taye Diggs as much as anyone (he’s the spokesmodel for Share the Power), but really: this campaign is a perfect example of Faux Philanthropy Meets Creepy Credulity. Whether the kids get fed or not, we know who gets an extra helping of filet mignon from these deals.

The worst of it is the number of people who will dutifully click—and imagine that they have eased a child’s hunger that day.

Jesus said, “if your child asks for bread, will you give her a stone?” No, not a stone: just a click.