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A healthy movement is growing in Los Angeles (48.5% Latino) where schools are saying no to the unhealthy marketing of McTeachers nights.
This week of May 12, 2015, schools are being asked to vote on nutrition and fundraising policies, including voting on policies around food marketing for local wellness school policies.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has outlined updates for school districts on local wellness policies (LWP) to include a policy around food marketing in schools by June 30, 2016.
School marketing includes any advertising, promotion of oral written, or graphic statements made for the purpose of promoting the sale of food or beverages, explains a resource from Voices for Healthy kids and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
Foods that do not meet USDA’s Smart Snack standards should not be marketed in schools.
Fortunately, some schools, like the nation’s largest school district, The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted to end its participation in McTeacher’s Nights.
McTeacher’s Nights advertise through school fundraisers, having teachers work behind the counter at a local McDonald’s restaurant to raise money by serving local students and their families food from McDonald’s.
“LAUSD’s really strong stance here is really a model for cities across the country to follow suit and to stand for children’s health,” Sriram Madhusoodanan, director of its Value the Meal campaign told USA Today.
Another advocate for healthier school meals through a Boston-based advocacy group, The Campaign for a Commerical-Free Childhood, David Monahan, has been working on healthier fundraising, and explained to USA Today that when kids see their teachers dressed in McDonald’s uniforms, flipping hamburgers, it sends the wrong message, giving kids a seal of approval for those types of foods.
Monahan also went on to explain that this type of fundraising is also not supported during school hours by federal wellness policies which do not allow school districts to serve junk food during the school day but puts teachers to serve as the face of junk food in a school’s after-hours.
President Steve Zimmer enforced the policy, explaining the Los Angeles Times that these fundraisers are an “egregious violation” of the policy to prohibit sponsorships from corporations that market, sell or produce products that may be harmful to children.
Cecily Myart-Cruz, vice-president of United Teachers Los Angeles told the Corporate Accountability International, “This should be a wake-up call for corporations like McDonald’s: We’re not going to tolerate them targeting our kids!”
To learn more about healthy changes needed for schools or to learn more about how marketing impacts Latino kids food choices, click here.