As reported in USA Today and elsewhere, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest, voted on Tuesday to put an end to “McTeacher’s Nights.”
For the uninitiated, McTeachers’ Nights are McDonald’s-sponsored fundraisers in which teachers are required to don uniforms and work behind the counter at a local McDonald’s franchise on a designated night, with a (relatively meager) portion of the evening’s proceeds going back to the school.
The district’s vote is a big win for Corporate Accountability International (CAI), an advocacy group that has long protested all McDonald’s in-school marketing practices. (In 2014, I joined CAI at the McDonald’s shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois as part of its “Moms Not Lovin’ It” campaign. You can read about that quite interesting experience in my recap: “Speaking Truth to Ronald.”)
The vote also follows the 2015 release of an open letter protesting the fundraisers and signed by the National Educators Association and more than 50 state and local teachers unions, as well as a similar open letter circulated by the labor union United Teachers Los Angeles.
LAUSD’s move is particularly significant in that districts around the country are right now in the process of formulating new wellness policies, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and such policies must include a provision banning on-campus advertising for junk food during the school day.
But as I explained to readers here in “USDA Finalizes School Nutrition Rules: What You Need to Know,” the USDA declined to say whether promotions like McTeachers’ Nights (as well as fast food coupons given as rewards, Box Tops collections and other such “indirect” advertising) constitute marketing for the purposes of that mandate.
It’s therefore now up to local districts to decide whether or not they want to prohibit these sorts of promotions. Given the size of LAUSD, its recent vote may have an influence on those local determinations.
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