Two weeks ago I broke an exclusive story regarding a new McDonald’s documentary for use in schools, 540 Meals: Choices Make the Difference, which chronicles the experience of a teacher who ate nothing but McDonald’s for six months and lost weight. For all the reasons outlined in my original post, I’m deeply troubled by the prospect of this heavily branded and misleading film infiltrating middle and high schools as “nutrition education.”
After my post appeared, the story was quickly picked up by many major news outlets including Reuters, CBS News and Fortune. Today I’m pleased to report that the spotlight on 540 Meals is now even brighter: the film is the subject of a front page article in the Washington Post, “How McDonald’s Is Using Schools to Try to Change What Kids Eat.”
In the piece, Washington Post reporter Roberto Ferdman does a great job of exploring the disturbing relationship between McDonald’s and schools, one in which the fast food chain provides schools with desperately needed funding in exchange for getting its brand in front of impressionable children. The piece features quotes by me, Marion Nestle, Yoni Freedhoff and others, and it also mentions my Change.org petition asking McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to immediately discontinue the 540 Meals school outreach program.
And speaking of the petition, I’m pleased to report that the signature count now tops 18,000. Thank you so much to all who’ve signed it! I hope you’ll also take a moment to share the petition on social media with friends and family so we can get even more support. (The short URL is change.org/stop540meals.)
When media outlets first started paying attention to 540 Meals, McDonald’s responded by actually pulling from the Internet the link to the film contained in my post. (I replaced it with another link.) That action indicated to me that McDonald’s knows this in-school marketing program can’t stand up to scrutiny.
Now that 540 Meals is the subject of a critical front page Washington Post story, perhaps it will do the right thing and put a stop to this misguided and aggressive in-school marketing campaign once and for all.
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