Sunday, December 02, 2012

What Do You Think of This?

I just don't get it but apparently, the Washington State PTA has entered into a partnership with....McDonalds. 


Washington State PTA and the Washington-based owner/operators of McDonald’s franchises have entered into a partnership agreement for the purpose of promoting healthy eating by kids. There are approximately 14,000 people employed in more than 285 McDonalds restaurants located in Washington, with 84% of the restaurants being locally owned and operated. 

Responding to both public comments and changing customer tastes, McDonalds has recently expanded its menu to include a number of lower-calorie and more nutritional items, and of course promoting child health and wellbeing is a core value of Washington State PTA.

 Under the agreement, McDonalds will be a platinum level sponsor at the Washington State PTA’s 100th Convention next May, and its exhibit booths will feature some of the recent additions to its menu. McDonald’s owner/operators also offer opportunities for local PTAs to conduct McTeachers Night fundraisers or other events at their restaurants.

For myself, this is just one more indication of the Washington State PTA going off the rails (or following the money whereever it goes and whoever will give it to them).  I think that given the childhood obesity levels in this country, it is not worth it. 

Oh, and teacher, do you want to be a "McTeacher"?


Anonymous said...

Pretty tone deaf. How many of the McJobs in our state provide a living wage? How many have health insurance? Somewhere, the McDonalds marketing folks have determined that the appearance of "healthy" may draw new people in, and when they're in, it's likely they'll buy the less-healthy, higher-margin stuff. Hate to be cynical, but this is the wrong partner for PTA.


Anonymous said...

This just confirms my decision not to join the PTA this year. Selling out our kids' health for a few $$$ saved at a PTA convention is too low for my tastes. Perhaps the leaders think that sticking to an ethical model of decision-making is too old-fashioned or 20th century or something.

Knock yourself out in the race to the bottom, WAPTA.


Anonymous said...

Another interpretation, maybe the PTA has had a positive impact on McDonalds? Many busy families eat there at least a couple times per month (including mine), so this sounds like a good thing. Ann

seattle citizen said...

Would teachers want to be a "McTeacher"?

"'McJob'...the Oxford English Dictionary...defines it as 'An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector.'[2] Lack of job security is common.

The term was coined by sociologist Amitai Etzioni, and appeared in the Washington Post on August 24, 1986 in the article 'McJobs are Bad for Kids'. The term was popularized by Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, described therein as 'a low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one.'

Sounds just right for TFA and other "two-year-stint" organizations. McTeacher: Low pay, low dignity, no future expected (two years, then out)...but sounds good to someone who has never been a teacher.

Anonymous said...

I doubt a state PTA would have any impact whatsoever on a behemoth like McDonalds. We occasionally eat there and at other fast food restaurants as well, but I am under no illusion that it is healthy eating. We also take pains to let our kids know that (and we discuss balance and moderation in all things).

The troubling thing here is that in exchange for a few dollars for a PTA convention, they are letting a major fast food corporation pretend to promote their meals as healthy eating. It would be one thing if McDonalds were sponsoring playgrounds or book fairs or recycling efforts. But they are not. They are literally buying their way into a lie, with the full support of WAPTA.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I was going to let Ann's comment go but honestly, McDonalds' being influenced by a state PTA? Are you really that naive to believe that is what this is about? Okay, if you like these public/private partnerships (no matter who they are with), fine. But that the PTA will have any influence on the bottom line? No.

NESeattleMom said...

Changes happen when it happens on a large scale. I don't eat at McDonald's but I think their menu planners do try to get on the wave of the new healthier foods. My nephew works for the Culinary Institute of America, and I know some large organizations such as McDonalds go there and learn. How much it transfers to healthy food for our kids is unknown, but change has got to be better than the current food. It would be neat if it advance to fresh-made food.

Charlie Mas said...

All of the decisions that McDonalds makes about the food they serve and how they prepare and serve it are driven by profitability.

They aren't trying to make un-healthy food; it just works out that way. They serve highly processed foods because they are cheaper than natural foods. Highly processed foods are also standardized for easy mass production in ways that natural foods are not, so they are easier and faster to prepare. That means that they can more easily train their unskilled force force to cook those foods. Processed foods also keep longer than natural foods and can be made to appear more attractive and appetizing.

They aren't choosing to make unhealthy food, they are choosing to make a profit. If they could make a profit with healthy, natural foods, they would.

So far, all of the effort in food technology has been to make the food bigger, cheaper, or faster. None of the effort has been to make the food better or healthier. If the food engineers turn that way, then that's what they will create.

seattle citizen said...

"...the effort in food technology has been...bigger, cheaper, or faster. None of the effort has been to make the food better or healthier. If the food engineers turn that way, then that's what they will create."

But that would increase the cost of the food, and those without enough money would starve.

I'm serious: We have a big problem with wages not allowing people to eat healthy food. With wage stagnation, the problem gets worse. How do we supply better (more healthy, more expensive) food if people can't afford to buy it?

I'm no economist, but I'm guessing wages would have to rise damatically, and in a global economy there is competition for most jobs, with someone always out there to do the job for less (and eat less healthy food.)

Quite the conundrum.

One solution is to move away from the "fast food" mentality, even the "eating out" mentality, and prepare one's food at home. But that is bucking the power of advertising...such as the WPTA's deal with McDonalds. So there we are.

Unknown said...

I do not know how this will work for other districts - and I don't know if Seattle Schools has agreed - but this does run smack into the Board's commercialism policy.

I note the announcement does make it sound like this all happen away from the school. However, I think there might be a fine line for the PTA to be careful not to advertise for any kind of McDonald-related event beyond their own website and/or newsletter (which they control). It cannot be part of any signage in the school or any part of principal announcements.

That's my take on re-reading the Board's policy on commercialism in schools.

The policy is pretty clear that any partnerships are between schools/district and the vendor, not the PTA and the vendor.

This should be one interesting PTA Convention next May.

Ronald McDonald said...

I love the southwest chicken salads, grilled chicken wraps and apple slices.

I don't see a problem.

Healthy Eater said...

I like McDonalds.

They have great salads. In fact, I love their southwest chicken salad. (grilled chicken).

The apple slices are a great snack.

During the summer I go everyday for an unsweetened iced tea. (large is only $1.00!).

McDonalds has great healthy food choices and I think the partnership is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I'm sorry for what I'm about to say, but Are You F***KING KIDDING ME?

And of course some self-satisfied, supposedly clever idiot will play devil's advocate and say "I like salad, etc." just like everyone likes puppies, rainbows and apple pie. Really? I'm sure Exxon has nice flowers in their lobbies too. And I'm sure lots of Nazis wore nice, clean uniforms. And I'm sure Stalin read wonderful bedtime stories to his grand kids. Any more clever anecdotes to inject as distractions?

But gee, never question or wonder, "why would McD's be interested in "partnering" with PTAs?

Okay, let me make this real simple: For-profit corporations exist to make money. Period. Public relations exist to improve the brand, which in turn, improves the bottom line. Charity, it is not. "Good" Business, it is.

This is getting so old. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a business move. The PTSA is asking for healthy choices, and they plan to provide it. McDonalds is utilized by many families, including low income. I'm not playing Devil's advocate, but rather trying to maintain perspective. What were the arguments behind making this partnership? Let us hear from both sides without demonizing either.

And just by the way, there are bigger issues in the world. Even in our own district. Ann

Ronald McDonald said...

WSDWG's language is offensive. This blog is really going downhill.

Anonymous said...

"McDonald's restaurants" is an oxymoron.

-- Ivan Weiss

Salad Eater. said...

Last time I checked, companies that make profits employ people and pay taxes.

Imagine a world where no one made profits.

Pretty bleak.

Unknown said...

McDonalds did not provide salads because the PTA asked for them.

No one is demonizing McDonalds. But there is a commercialism policy in this district for a reason. There's a chilhood obesity problem in this country and it's not from eating McDonalds salads.

Those ARE big issues (but as you can see by the number of threads yesterday, not the only ones in our district).

Yes, WSDWG, let's watch the language, please.

Salad Eater, and your rationale is precisely why public education is being taken over by profit-driven motives. No, it's not a good idea.

Maureen said...

I wonder if this could be another one of those East side vs. West side issues with Washington state. There are probably small towns around WA that don't have any mom and pop or healthy restaurants left in business. Those parents might see partnering with McD's for fundraising as their only option. I agree that McD's isn't doing this out of the goodness of their heart. I wonder if WAPTSA going along with it reflects the impact of non-Seattle PTSA chapters.

Po3 said...

I don't mind if Big Mac has a booth at a PTA conference, adults can make decisions on what to eat.

But if Ronnie McDonnie is going to have a presence in my school as part of a fundraiser - that is another story!

Patrick said...

WAPTA continues to disappoint. How hard would it be for the school PTAs to disassociate themselves with the state PTA? Have any PTAs in Washington done so?

ArchStanton said...

Seattle Citizen's McTeacher comment got me thinking about a photoshop, but a search of the term "McTeacher"" revealed that the term has already been used by none other than McDonald's itself.

/If I wasn't laughing, I'd be crying

Fonzi said...

I wasn't sure, but now I know, this blog long ago jumped the shark.

Bill Gates said...

Local PTAs can dissociate with the state PTA. They can also distance themselves from the inept central administrations and ... and ...
run themselves as a charter school.

Killer Klowns said...

It's a nightmare from hell.

How long before McDonald's has control over school lunches?

Anonymous said...

Talk about an oddball couple. The partnership doesn't offend me as much as other posters here. In our family, fast food is a last resort meal, but we are glad to have them off interstates when hunger mad kids must be fed before parents lose sanity (not to mention, bathroom privilege that comes with such happy meals).

I would hope WSPTA gets a lot more out of this as an organization than just an OK to have PTA fundraising events at local McD's (though having a hoot imagining la-di-da school auctions at the golden arches). Otherwise, it's advantage mickey D's all the way to the bank. Of course, it's always nice to have a public/private partnership credited on one's CV if you are looking for one of those billionaires run "non-profit" job.

mellow badger

Aunt Jemima said...


I am afraid you are right.

I think Bisquick might take over the breakfasts.

Lori said...

I wish that WSPTA had given a little more insight into this decision in its announcement. They should have been able to predict negative reaction and therefore should have better communicated why they entered into this partnership with McDonalds.

Not knowing much about McD's current menu, I went to their website to look around to see what, if anything, might qualify as new and healthy. Yeah, there are some salads and wraps that appear designed for adults, but the Happy Meals still don't look like health food. So I looked for news, press releases etc to see if there was more to the story. Is McDonald's really offering healthier food?

Best I can tell, about a year and half ago, McD's re-designed the Happy Meals most likely in response to pressure/recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which published industry recommendations back in 2006 for combating/preventing childhood obesity. The IOM requested voluntary compliance, to be followed by legislative actions, if industry did not make improvements.

For the QSRs (quick-service restaurants - isn't that cute?), they recommended that meals for young kids have no more than 480 calories and that healthier choices be the default rather than just an option. Happy Meals used to all come with soda and have 500+ calories, but in 2011, things changed a bit. The size of the fries is smaller, apple slices are added as a default now instead of an option (and the caramel sauce that used to come with them is now gone), milk is also the default now instead of soda. Today, 2 out of 3 Happy Meals are under 480 calories. (Although, the cheeseburger meal, at 520 calories, is on the "worst kids food" list of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine).

Another recommendation from the IOM was for QSRs to form partnerships to promote healthy diets. I don't really know what this is supposed to mean or what the IOM expected, but I wonder if the WSPTA/McD partnership arose out of this recommendation.

So, I suppose all of this leaves us in a quandary. Do we support incremental progress toward improving the food offered at chain restaurants? When a place like McD's seems to be voluntarily complying with requests from the public health community to cut down calories and offer healthy options as the default in their meals, do we turn a blind eye to those efforts? The reality is that millions of Americans eat there every day. Millions of American work there too, and their kids probably go to public schools. Many of us may choose to eat elsewhere, but we are never going to force that decision on everyone else.

Bottom line, I suspect there's a lot more behind this decision, and I wish WSPTA would have shared some of it with the community. It's easy to mock the decision, but I'd rather have the rest of the story before I criticize OR praise.

Anonymous said...

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

This proves it. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Now, now WSDWG, as a 17 yo once upon a time, Mickey D's did help pay for my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and some of my college fees while I was serving happy meals in the classic, nylon gold/reddish brown uniform.

My super costly kids seem to prefer jobs at Wendy's (sniff).

-mellow badger

Anonymous said...

@MellowBadger: Cute. Very twee. Your point?


Anonymous said...

Plants: Go away.

And stop imitating Korsmo. She's the only one who finds herself funny.


KG said...


Anonymous said...

Healthy Eater...

A quick websearch shows that the new McD salads aren't all that healthy. As someone who constantly has to monitor food intake, I know that salad dressing can be as fattening and bad for you as a Big Mac. Here's what I found:

The new “healthy” salads at Mcdonald’s a) Bacon Ranch b) California Cobb, and c) Caesar can each be ordered with crispy chicken, grilled chicken, or no chicken.
The base of the salad with the greens, tomatoes, carrots and even sprinkles of light cheese are MUCH healthier than any of the other options on the menu. However when you add in the dressing and the chicken, the landscape begins to change.
A McDonald’s Bacon Ranch salad with crispy chicken and Newman’s Own Ranch dressing has 660 calories, 11½ grams of saturated fat, and 1570 mg of sodium — much higher (in every area) than a Quarter Pounder with a small order of fries. The Newman’s Own Ranch dressing alone has 300 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

Web: http://www.nu-train.com/repository/a-mcdonalds-salad-can-be-a-healthy-option-if-you-choose-with-caution/


Zebra (not Zulu) said...

Everyday Math = McHomework

Writer's Workshop = McWriting

CMP Math = McWorksheets

NSF Science Boxes = McScience

Is the WSPTA so desperate that they need ally with a corporation that assumes all of its new-hires have the academic equivalent of an 8th grade education?

I can see the future..."Taco Time Teacher of the Year." Mr. Paprika recently developed an new algorithm for calculating the volume of lard evaporated daily from the deep frier.

Jack and Wendy said...

C'mon WSDWG. Are you trying to tell me that you don't occasionally enjoy a McDonald's hot fudge sundae?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh for gosh's sakes, no one is talking about an occasional fast-food meal. That is NOT the subject of this thread and I'm fairly certain everyone knows it.

It's who the WSPTA choose to partner with to create better academic outcomes for students.

McDonalds would not be my choice. So sure, I'll go ask why but it's in their release.

Money drives everything and this is proof.

Anonymous said...

My point is this partnership just doesn't get me all hot and bothered as the thread on how corporate subsidies hurt public education. This partnership is more of a parasitic nature with McDonald's brand gaining stature and legitimacy while WSPTA sinks. But then agin, WSPTA isn't my educational proxy voice. It could be again if its leadership shape up and stop trying so hard to fit in with the educational fashionistas.

I doubt you are going to find many who will promote McD's menu as healthy. But it's there and part of our fast food culture. Perhaps, one day it will go away in the same manner as twinkies and wonder bread. Hate it or love it, that's your individual choice. After all this is the state that just passed recreational pot use, so I really can't get my dander up.

mellow badger

Anonymous said...

Who brought the clowns? WSDWG

Anonymous said...

It is an attempt at improving the image of McDonald's. It is like when R J Reynolds bought Kraft... tie yourself to something people cannot argue against...

But please, spare me the indignity of the McTeacher fundraiser. Way to further devalue the job... Thanks.

Here is your grade, would you like fries with that?

-Only if I get a free uniform and a badge.

seattle citizen said...

Here is a picture of a McTeacher.

McHealthy Eater said...

Here's a McChild after being poisoned with McFood by a McPTA.

parent said...

WAPTA - they don't do anything to help small, struggling PTAs, they take are dues and say "isn't it great you're part of the largest advocacy group for children's welfare?" when you raise issues about fundraising, they are quick to say a pta is about advocacy not fundraising. When we have an issue that needs advocate support in Seattle, wapta is nowhere to be found. Now they are fundraising with an organization that has not been good to child welfare. What's wrong with this picture?

Anonymous said...

I might have to try dressing like "Ronald McTeacher" when I come to work. Let's see how that goes in my AP Language and Comp class.
-Mmmm McRhetoric

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
The partnership isn't unique. Locally owned McDonald's have been helping schools fundraise since at least 2003 (in other states). The franchises (again, locally owned businesses) let PTAs take over the restaurants for a set time and the proceeds go to the school. Some sports stadiums work a similar deal where they let non-profits take over the concession stand to earn money.

Locally owned businesses (including franchises) also often sponsor local kids sporting teams. I've never heard of a litmus test required for participation.

In any case, local PTAs don't have to participate in anything. But the option is there if they are interested. I know my local K-5 school used to hand out pizza coupons as part of its reading program. I certainly don't miss it; but I never heard any mass protests when it was in place.

For the poster concerned about advocacy: Always feel free to contact the office if you have a concern. WSPTA works at the state level, but your local concern may have a state hook, or there may be resources available. Please keep in mind that "PTA" is a volunteer association. The state board and staff support members in their advocacy, but the speaking up, networking and heavy lifting comes from members. (There are 9 staff members to support 140,000 members and over 900 local units. Only 1 -- me -- is devoted to legislative advocacy. Board members are volunteers -- just like your local PTA boards). See www.wastatepta.org/advocacy for information about the advocacy program.

Also touch base with the Seattle Council PTSA. It exists to help support local PTAs in Seattle and to help with district-level advocacy. Just remember - they're all volunteers. They are volunteering their time to help you develop your skills so you can be a strong advocate for kids.

- Ramona Hattendorf, gov't relations coordinator (staff) WSPTA

Enquiring Minds said...

Who, exactly, signed off on the decision to associate the PTAs of Washington State with fast food?

I'm sure WSPTA has a diligent process to prevent conflicts of interest when making major decisions like these. I wonder if they would mind publishing the conflict of interest declarations in this case?

Nick Esparza said...

As most of you know, Nutrition Services has undergone some changes. Some were handed down by federal government. Some of these changes are no more cheese on hamburgers, and stricter guidelines on food service and handling in the lunch room. However, these changes were to be made next year. But the Wendy Weye, Director of Nutrition Services, decided to implement them this year. This makes no sense. The nutrition services is losing money due to these changes.

Most high school kids like cheese on their burgers. Since these changes have occurred we encourages more students to eat at Mcdonalds and other such places. This resulted in losses of money in the school district due to lost lunch buying. This loss has lead to nutrition services being in the red. The last time we looked they were $850 thousand in the red.

Also, some of this loss is due to poor lunch planning. Most of the kids are getting free and reduced lunches. But even these people want to eat out. The menu, selection and regulations are not working. I think the most common complaint is the food is the same old garbage. It is only good for so many repeats. It is referred to as carnival food. Pizza, hotdogs and french fries. The only difference is a carnival makes money. We need to have more involvement from the kids. What do the kids want. As long as it is reasonable or healthy the kids need choices they want.

The other odd thing is the grade school parents regulate the menu for the whole school. If the grade school parents complain about items, then the whole school suffers and is denied items. The poor food makes kids want to go off campus to eat or not eat at all. This makes for late returning and kids whom can't concentrate because of poor nutrition.

As I understand the kids can't have cheese to make the hamburger taste good, but they can have as much mayo and ketchup full of fat and high fructose that they want. So I guess this makes the food even healthier and tastier. Denying things like chocolate milk to the high school kids because grade school parents say it is bad is not helping anyone. It just makes for a less appealing lunch.

Back to the loss of money. Some of this is due to poor menu and kids not eating at school, but we are hiring new nutritional Assistant Directors, and More Dietitans. We already have these people in place. We don't need to waste money on more, but rather get ones in that do the right job and get rid of the bad ones.

The people already slaving away serving hear the complaints and solutions. They just need someone to listen and survey they consumer. Maybe we need to go back to an in house fresh cooked food. Having a central kitchen is not working. It is wasting resources and producing inadequate food that tastes like cardboard.

Most shocking was an email I received from an anonymous tipster, The Sesame Street's Count, about nutrition services, which said, if supplies in which we know would run out actually do run out, we will stop operations. As the email states they tried ordering supplies from their regular vender and to no avail stopped there and did not peruse other avenues, Costco or Sam's Club, etc. See attached email.

And I apologize that 47,000 kids will go hungry when this actually happens. Way to go Seattle School District. Even criminals in prison get 3 meals a day.

Anonymous said...
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