Thank you to reader Chris Davis for sending me a link to the latest McDonald’s marketing campaign — report cards!
That’s right — Ronald’s burger joint and The School Board of Seminole Country, Florida, have teamed up to offer free Happy Meals to students achieving good academic, conduct, and attendance scores.
Some of you might expect me to be flabbergasted and start punching my computer screen. Well, color yourselves surprised.
For starters — the Happy Meal offers the choice of apple dippers instead of fries and milk in place of soda. I have to give McDonald’s some credit for allowing customers to venture outside of the usual “soda and fries” mentality.
I also think that frequency, and not a Happy Meal itself, should be the examined issue.
If this free Happy Meal is a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, I don’t interpret that as a public health menace.
If anything, restricting unhealthy meals to certain events is better than placing them in the “grab whenever we’re in a rush” category or normalizing them as an authentic substitute for a home cooked meal.
Yes, I know we are dealing with the issue of using food as reward, which brings its share of problems. And, no, I’m not comfortable with the idea of McDonald’s advertising on a report card.
It is one thing if a parent chooses to grab a Happy Meal with their kids as a way of rewarding them for good grades, it’s another when children come home and say, “Mom, I got all A’s, can we go to McDonald’s? Look, we can go for free!”
However, when I was an elementary school student in Connecticut, a local deli offered the exact same report card deal.
Granted, it was not promoted by my school, but (surprisingly?), this is not a case of McDonald’s setting a new low standard.