03 May

In the past I have shared about my ongoing issues with weight.  It’s been a struggle of mine for much of my life, and one that I do not want to pass on to my children.  While it’s true that from time to time we go to chain, fast-food restaurants, it is far from the norm.  In fact, my kids get so excited about Subway, those other burger-based joints are routinely skipped over.  There are days though, where we end up in one.  We talk a lot about how it’s not healthy food, and why is it that stuff that is so bad for us (deep fried potatoes are linked to cancer – did you know that?) can taste so good in the moment.  We talk about how if we go to one of the chain restaurants, it’s only because we have all eaten really well that day, and will not be having any junk to eat afterwards.

MOMD’s position is everything in moderation.  And while I really am opposed to fast-food intellectually, why do those damn fries taste so good??

Anyway.  Yesterday was McHappy Day.  On Monday, Connor brought home a little note from school advising parents of that fact (a fact the kids were all ready well aware of, thanks to classroom discussion), and explaining that staff from his school would be working at the restaurant on Bayly from 3:30-5:00.  Further, money raised that day would be directed to a local children’s organization – The Grandview Centre.

When I saw this note, I had a little flicker of unease.  At first, I didn’t know exactly what it was, so I pushed the feeling down and got on with getting homework done, starting dinner and chasing the boys around.  I actually didn’t take the time to address my discomfort until we were sitting in the restaurant yesterday, the boys having just finished eating their dinners.  As it turns out, I have several issues with this.

One: There is a strong sense of community in schools.  Particularly in my son’s school, which is a Tribe school. This is great in many, many ways and I admit that I love his school pride and spirit.  However, it makes it very difficult to say “we aren’t participating” in a school activity, because it’s a value statement.  As his parents, when we say no, we are telling him that what he values is not important to us.  And ever since this, I’m working really hard not to do that.

Two: I don’t want to send the message that supporting charities that focus on children’s welfare is not important.  Especially since we have used the services of the beneficiary in this particular case (Sam’s hearing assessment happened at Grandview).  It’s a great opportunity to have a discussion about what kind of needs kids have, what the charities help them with, and ultimately helps my kids to see how much they have in their lives.

Three: (And this is the biggie) Schools are more and more, becoming places of health.  Connor has gym 4 days out of 5, has outdoor play 3 times a day, and even has a “healthy snack” program.  Kids are taught about food groups, healthy choices, unhealthy choices, and parents are talked to when lunch bags seem to be consistently unhealthy.  There’s a strong focus on educating both the parent and child in an effort to have healthier individuals in society.  Connor has even had marketing education: he came home from school one day talking about the lies in commercials.  I for one, think this is great.

Here’s where the disconnect comes in.

If we are working so hard to raise healthy people, why on earth would a school link arms with a fast-food restaurant?  Many schools – Connor’s included – are free of vending machines now: no pop, no chips, no chocolate bars.  If you want to buy a drink at school, you’re choices are either white or chocolate milk (whether or not that’s “healthy” is another debate altogether, so I’ll skip over it in this post).  If you didn’t bring your snacks, or you forgot your lunch, there are fruits and vegetables and yogurts.  These children are looking to parents and educators for guidance, they trust us.  And telling them “Let’s go to McDonalds to help kids and support out community,” is a departure from their usual message.  It muddies the waters, and makes it more difficult to explain to my kids that french fries are unhealthy and are making us sick, so we have to eat less of them.  When the school aligned themselves for this community day – which again I stress is a great initiative helping many, many people who need our help – they put a stamp of approval on the restaurant, and the food it serves.

It is that which I take issue with.  But am I crazy?  What do you think?  Am I overreacting?  Have your say in the comments.


Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Family, Food, Opinion, Raising Kids, Soap Box, Vexations


Tags: , , , ,

6 responses to “Disconnect…

  1. ajumbledmind

    May 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    You are definitely not overreacting. My son’s school started a running club and has started growing a community garden, but they have monthly PTA fundraisers at a fast food fried chicken restaurant! To make matters worse, the discount they offer to entice the children to go there is on the fried chicken tenders meal with fries. If we are going to have it there, why can’t that at least offer a discount on the salads!

    • realfoodcooking

      May 3, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      UGG!! Why do they do that??? The institution is moving forward, and yet it seems not everyone’s on board with this… How do we help the schools to see the disconnect? There must be a way.

  2. Amy Clarke

    May 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    The more schools teach about healthy options and encourage healthy lifestyles the more fast food restaurants will have to change their marketing. As society demands more of these places the more they will have to respond. Participating in an event like this could be simply for the marketing but regardless it will result in positive outcomes for people. Sometimes the ends do justify the means. Sometimes. Namely when it comes to fries.

  3. Skwishee

    May 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I’ve also struggled with my weight and eating healthy; I most certainly do not want to pass on any of my issues to my kids, but I think it’s possible to go too far when limiting what they eat. If you never let them have any of the “junk”, then once they do have the opportunity and it’s out of your control, they may eat that way all the time. (Because let’s face it, if it didn’t taste good, it wouldn’t be an issue.)

    I too am a believer in moderation; we actually do eat at McDonalds once a week. (I know – *gasp*.) However, my kids get healthy food in general, and when we do go to McDonalds, they get apple slices and milk, so I don’t really see the harm. They know it’s not an “every day” food, and I think that’s the important thing.

    In your case specifically, I would have more of a problem with it if their choices were limited to fries and pop (as they are at some other places), but the healthy options were available and it was for a good cause.

    • realfoodcooking

      May 3, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      I’ve been finding that McD’s is dropping the apple slices option now. We’ve been in a few locations where they are no longer offered. I can tell you that in the happy meal now you get an even smaller fries than before, as well as a petite danon yogurt.

      And really I want to be totally transparent here: we eat fries *a* *lot*. Not just from fast food restaurants, also oven fries (which are never as good, somehow) as well as hand-cut, deep fried in my kitchen fries. 🙂 I am totally not the “never” parent lol…

  4. Christina Masters

    May 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    There are healthy alternatives at McDonald’s. McDonald’s does support so many community fund raisers, Ronald McDonald house is an excellent example of their commitment to ‘giving back’. Second, you could have made a cheque for the charity and explained to the kids, ‘we are giving just not going and eating’. Get involved with the school and make suggestions for other ways to raise money. It’s good that kids are ‘aware’ but denying some of the yummy stuff, although not healthy stuff could create a longing later. Example, I rarely had pop in my house when the kids were growing up and now they have total control, pop, way more then maybe if they had a balance when they were young. PS: I had a constant candy bowl in the livingroom, (do you remember) and they would have one sometimes but never stuffing themselves. Who knows, balance in life, both physically and emotionally!!


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