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Gift of 150,000 Kid’s Magazines and Whole Foods Newsstand Campaign Pay Magazines Forward for Literacy

Media Release

Madison, WI— At 16, John Mennell, founder of, and a friend cleaned out an abandoned school to create a teen center for their hometown. At 26, he knocked on the door of a food pantry with no food and stood in front of a grocery store to collect 2,000 pounds of groceries to fill the shelves. He spent a summer between Cornell semesters heading on foot from Ithaca to Candor, New York, to mentor teens starting a community newspaper, and walked from Washington to Boston to spotlight U.S. hunger. Thus, began a journey coming full-circle this week with a first-time newsstand magazine drive at Whole Foods that engaged thousands of consumers to share magazines for literacy, and a gargantuan gift of 150,000 Boy’s Quest, Hopscotch for Girls, and Fun for Kidz magazines from the Edwards publishing family in Bluffton, Ohio that will be delivered to at-risk readers via food banks and Boys & Girls Clubs.

“The Edwards family has made an unprecedented gift for literacy that kickstarts our long-time dream to channel magazines to millions of eager readers via the nation’s vast food bank network,” explained Mennell. “The magazines will be put into the hands and homes of enough at-risk readers to fill every seat in two Super Bowl stadiums, via food banks and Boys & Girls Clubs in the midwest, and the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, which serves 900,000 people each year – mostly children – in the region hardest hit by superstorm Sandy,” he added.

Building momentum, Mennell’s global literacy project just received 1,000 copies of Popular Mechanics that will go to teens in maker mentoring, and science and technology programs, 2,000 Owl Kids sent to Inuit children north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, pallets of Condé Nast magazines, and hundreds of Food Network magazines for culinary job training programs operated by food banks. “I read Popular Mechanics and other magazines cover-to-cover as a teen and still do – it’s the reason for,” explained Mennell.

hands_and_mag-mday“With titles for every reading level and interest, we know that magazines are enormously powerful for literacy – especially for reluctant readers. Paying magazines forward fuels our impact, but there are millions more readers to reach,” said Mennell. “This weekend at Whole Foods, we spoke to over 1,000 consumers. There are tens of thousands of newsstands across America visited by tens of millions of consumers who love to read and share their magazines. Imagine the reach possible by marshaling a magazine industry-wide response to literacy. There is a role to play for every individual and every company throughout the entire supply chain – from the paper mill to the printer to the publisher, and from the mailroom to the boardroom,” he added.

The U.S. Dept. of Education says there are over 1 million homeless students. The Census reports that 16 million kids live in poverty. Reading is Fundamental says two-thirds of children in poverty live in homes with no books. “A child unable to read is a child lost, unable to excel in any subject, and adults unable to read were once children who didn’t learn how,” explains Mennell. “Our mission is put magazines into hands and homes to end poverty,” he said.

Early on, received funding from Austin Kiplinger and enjoys support from throughout the magazine industry. “To reach our full promise, we need publishers and editors to walk with us on this journey – to underwrite operations, to partner on circulation and PSA display advertising campaigns, and to tell our stories to all the citizens of the world” said Mennell.


Sample Fun for Kidz covers:  Read more

Whole Foods Magazine Drive Images:  Read more

  • Boys and Girls Club of Marion County

    501 (c)(3) Charity
    100 magazines
    Dunnellon, FL, USA
    Needs: 100 magazines
    Magazines Requested: Education Life Skills, Young Girls Magazines, Boys Crafts Magazines, Physical Fitness Magazines, Cooking Magazines, Career Magazines

  • Maryland Correctional Institution–Jessup (MCIJ)

    School or Library
    Jessup, Maryland
    Serving male adults 18-60 years of age. From pre-literacy to varying reading levels.
    Needs magazines for 30 students monthly
    Magazines Requested: Students enjoy nonfiction magazines with lots of pictures and short articles–this would include magazines about animals, geography, science, food, clothing, anything relevant to today’s world. National Geographic for Kids would be wonderful.

  • A New Leaf

    501(c)(3) Charity
    Mesa, Arizona, USA
    Serving girls and boys ages 12 to 17 with reading levels 6th grade and up
    Needs enough magazines for 10 girls and 16 boys
    Magazines Requested: Any sports magazines, any car magazines, any fashion magazines, and any entertainment magazines

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