Citing the "largest preventable health crisis in the U.S." and calling it "wholly inappropriate for McDonald's to exploit cash-strapped schools to market its junk food brand," teachers across America have asked McDonald's to scrap McTeacher's Nights. In a letter sent to CEO Steve Easterbrook, the group said the company's practice of having educators and volunteers raise money by working McDonald's registers is a harmful practice, and if it isn't stopped, "many children will be burdened with diet-related diseases like obesity and Type 2 diabetes, affecting their heath for life."
"McTeacher’s Nights negate the good work of educators to create healthy food habits and environments in schools," the letter reads, per Consumerist. "Parents and children trust us to make decisions based on what’s best for our students. Using teachers to market anything to children undermines that trust. But given the dire health consequences, promoting any fast food brand is especially unconscionable. Educators should not have to choose between school resources today and the health of our students tomorrow."
In a statement provided to Eater, a spokesperson for McDonald's said McTeacher's Nights are all about having fun, and that educators choose to participate in them.
"McTeacher's Nights are all about community, fun and fundraising. As parents and members of their communities, McDonald's franchisees and our corporate restaurants have long supported what matters most to them. McTeacher's Nights are one example.
"Teachers and parent teacher organizations have a choice in how they seek to raise additional funds, and for years they have told McDonald's and franchisees that, in addition to the extra financial support these events provide for their schools, they have a great time connecting with their students and neighbors."
The spokesperson noted that from January 2013 through September 2015, company-owned McDonald's restaurants paid more than $2,525,000 to organizations for donations from McTeacher's Nights. McDonald's owns roughly 10 percent of its restaurants, and it's difficult to pinpoint how much money has been donated from franchisee-owned locations. There was no mention of possible health concerns.
The kerfuffle over McTeacher's Nights comes at the same time McDonald's is receiving flack for 540 Meals: Choices Make the Difference, a film that targets middle and high schoolers. The fast food giant calls it a documentary, but detractors say it "promotes the McDonald's brand so aggressively," it is essentially an infomercial for the chain.