Mcdonalds Fast Food in Nursery Schools?


MacDonalds Fast Food

in Nursery Schools?

Our nursery has a white board that they fill in every day, so that when parents go in they can see what the kids have planned for the day, or what they’ve been doing.  Last week I wandered in to pick up my son and saw on the noticeboard – ‘McDonalds!’

I thought, surely that couldn’t mean what I think it means, and asked at reception.  She confirmed that in the nursery school, (where my son will be going in a month or so) they had indeed had done an activity where they were all given a burger in a bun, and it had been wrapped in McDonalds packaging.   I said I wasn’t particularly happy about that and the receptionist defended the activity by saying that McDonalds hadn’t actually asked if they could do this activity, the nursery had approached them independently.  I commented that it must be a dream come true for MacDonalds as they are known for actively targetting children, especially pre-school children.

After the receptionist looked at me like I was mad, I went to pick up Sausage.  There I asked about 6 nursery staff who were on duty what they though of the activity.  They all said ‘It’s just a treat’ and didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with inviting a fast food company in to a nursery.  I mean, I could have almost understood it, if they’d simply packaged the food in greaseproof paper or something similar, but to actually use McDonald branded paper is just blatant advertising – and it’s not advertising a product I want my kids to relate to really.

I do take my children to McDonalds every now and then, although I have to admit Horace is the one who usually instigates it.  I’m not averse to taking them every now and then because it’s ok in moderation I suppose, along with sweets and fizzy pop.  I’m not a Hitler type who flatly refuses to give my children anything other than organic, free-range, tree-hugging, green, environmentally friendly foodstuffs.  I just try my best to give them healthy food as much as I can, and if I decide to take them to Mcdonalds every couple of months, that’s my choice – I don’t believe that it’s a choice that nursery can make on my behalf.

With all the current problems with obesity in this country, I am absolutely amazed and quietly very angry that my nursery has encouraged this very insideous company into their domain.  I know they’re not eating chips and burgers every lunch time, and it’s a one off – but it’s the principle of the matter.

I know not everyone is aware of the issues that have surrounded McDonalds and their marketing campaigns over the last ten years or so, but I think anyone who works with children and their accompanying health issues, should be.  It beggars belief that I was met with blank expressions and empty excuses when I challenged their fast-food activity.

I’m going to fill in an official complaints form, but I’d be very interested to find out other parent’s opinions before I do so.  Any comments, suggestions or thoughts will be noted and if necessary shared with the nursery (with your permission of course).

Surely this sort of thing just can’t be encouraged can it?  Or am I being an over-the-top mum again (kids with guns revisited!).

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30 responses to “Mcdonalds Fast Food in Nursery Schools?

  1. Haven’t read the kids with guns thing yet, will pop off to have a look at it just now, but on this topic I’m 100% behind you. It’s utterly bewildering that the nursery staff think that’s acceptable. It’s wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. And it’s not that I’m a McD hater as such, I also take my kids there every once in a while, they are one of the few fastfood places who actually have a wide enough range that I can feed all of my picky brood at once!

  2. My question is WHY? what educational need is being met by giving the Kids a Macdonalds? If they are doing a project on different world foods there are so many better examples to give the children.
    Sounds very wrong to me indeed!

  3. A treat is one thing, but I don’t understand why they did it? Was it actually McDonalds food? Or burgers they had cooked themselves and wrapped in MD’s packaging? I ask because I really don’t understand the logic!

    Personally, for my own children I wouldn’t have a problem for a one off ‘treat’ (If that is what it was) but after all the fighting to get kids school meals healthier, it really seems like a ridiculous ‘activity’, and I’m surprised it was allowed!

  4. This has really got me wondering…Were the parents given the option for their child to take part or not? I still don’t understand why McDonalds?? *confused*

  5. I know lots of schools etc. have an end of term “treat” of some kind but I think they got it slightly wrong. Were the parents told this departure from normal lunch arrangements was being planned? Would the parents have had to pay for it or did it come out of the school budget? It should have been part of an “it’s OK to eat one of these occasionally but not every day” sort of message/activity. I can understand the logic if it was part of that sort of message – i.e. this is our end of term treat but we wouldn’t have it everyday.

  6. Treats are a fantastic way to encourage positive behaviour in children, however they should be agreed between the nursery and the parents, I very much doubt that you will be the only complainant and you are justified in your complaint.
    What about those parents that don’t allow any sort of fast food in their childrens’ diets, where these parents consulted, there are also allergies etc to consider.
    I tend to take my son to MacDonalds every 2-3 months too, but the nutritional value is virtually non-existent and I wouldn’t be happy about that choice being taken from me. I’m his mum, his health is my responsibility.

  7. This is really strange, why couldn’t they just give them burgers? I don’t think anyone would have objected to that, but to wrap it in mcdonalds paper is correlating them with a treat or something good and special. I would definitely complain. I actually find it weird that mcdonalds agreed to it, afterall it isn’t their product in the wrapping.

  8. I take my son to MacDonalds occasionally as a treat but I would be a bit concerned about him having been given MacDonalds food at nursery. At that age you have to be careful about their diet. I could vaguely understand the burgers, the kids could add their own salad as a bit of a fun activity and its a bit healthier, but why wrap them in MacDonalds packaging? Its free advertising.

  9. LondonBirdLucy

    I’ve got mixed feeling about this…
    My mum would never let me eat junk food as a child, she was very much a healthly eater. She would give me chocolates or crisps occasionally. Lucky for me, my dad would treat me every now and then to McD’s.
    As for the school promoting McD’s, if it’s a one off treat that isn’t too bad, maybe suggest that the kids also eat a bowl of salad in a McD’s salad bowl (I think they have them)
    But its not a one off then I would be annoyed, my 3yo son, has been taken him to McD’s a few times afterwards that all he wants to eat. And everytime we walk pass one he asks can we go.
    But on the upside last time he went he only wanted to stick his fingers in the ketchup. (mind up that’s another thing I don’t like the boys eating)
    PS: My mums favourite treat is KFC? And she’s always giving my boys little treats. Parents are funny people when it comes to their own kids

  10. It is a one off I’m sure, and like I said I’m not averse to treats every now and then either – but they could just have had the burgers without the branded wrapping. It just seems wrong to introduce advertising to kids at such a young age. They aren’t even allowed fast food adverts on kid’s tv channels are they, and yet they’re fed adverts on a plate at nursery?

  11. Katherine De Riera

    I completely agree with you, I certainly wouldn’t be happy about my child being given a McDonalds by his nursery. I have never taken him there, he’s three, but I have taken him to Burger King about twice. This is my choice and not for a nursery to decide. I think its quite irresponsible with the obesity problems we have in this country too.

  12. wendy @kikicomp

    I agree with you totally and I cant think of anything worse – but then we are vegetarian and have never eaten their food!

    I would say why promote a corporate firm – surely they have to be seen to be fair and not promote one firm over another.
    Surely treats can be given without having to resort to mass marketing

  13. I was a parent governor at my son’s Nursery School for a number of years. There is no way we and the staff would have contemplated allowing this to happen without the parents being consulted.

  14. I’m totally shocked. I’m uncomfortable with any kind of branding in my daughter’s nursery. The idea that she calls building blocks by their brand name even freaks me out. We occasionally get free DVDs put out or free bits of chocolate the nursery has been sent; the nursery leave them for parents to take if they want to but its not part of the children’s curriculum/menu and even them just being there on display makes me angry because it means that companies are sending out these freebies to nurseries in the hope to get kids hooked.

    If my child was going to be eating anything not already on the normal menu then It’d be nice to be told, right?

    Treats are treats but I think a treat like that should be reserved for parents to decide about. i think I’m in agreement with lots of the comments above… just why? I don’t get it.

  15. I am a little confused as to what benefit this had, especially as it appears that it was not McDonalds food in the wrapper. I personally wouldn’t be happy that my child had been given this without my consent, even though I do take them to McDonalds once in a while I would want this to be my choice. Would the nursery give sweets or fizzy drinks without asking permission??? Surely the kids would have enjoyed something healthy just as much, like fresh fruit cocktail or homemade veggie pizza that they could make themselves.

  16. I think the major issue here is that they did it without your permission – even if you would have said Yes, they should have asked first. And as others have said, they shouldn’t be exposing children to branding – arguably even branding you would feel happy about like the Fairtrade logo – at that age. It should be your decision, and yours alone.

  17. My son is going up into this part of nursery in the next couple of months, so he wasn’t directly involved in this, so they didn’t need to ask permission from me as he wasn’t taking part. The thing is, if they decide to repeat this treat whilst he is in their care – the issue is – even if they do ask permission, am I really going to be the mum who says that her son cannot have the same ‘treat’ as all the other kids? How mean would that make me seem? And should I and other mums really be put in that position?

  18. This is worth reading! Time Health magazine. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650268,00.html Younger children are unable to distinguish truth from advertising.

  19. OMG! As an Outreach Worker in a SureStart Children’s Centre who promotes Healthy Families & facilitates the HENRY programme, I am amazed this activity was considered at all, let alone as a good idea. Even more amazed the staff could not understand the parents’ worries/concerns about the message they were giving out to the children in their care!

  20. Having spoken to someone who facilitates the HENRY programme for Surestart, I’ve been told that this activity would defintiely be considered inappropriate – this nursery is registered with Surestart and surely should be following a scheme that works alongside the HENRY programme?

  21. Hello! I have to admit, I’ve not read your blog for aaaages, last time I did there were loads of reviews about hand wash/wipes etc! However, I’ve remembered about it, popped on & feel like I need to step in & defend the nursery a little from this public flogging.
    I have to start by saying however that whilst I don’t necessarily agree with what was done (at best it was perhaps ill-judged, at worst, well, again it was ill-judged) I’m not sure you should go in all guns blazing heading for the jugular so to speak Iit seems a bit unfair to launch this at them for what I suspect has been just an error of judgement on this occasion but more importantly, due to the fact that you or S weren’t directly involved in the activity!
    We were notified in a newsletter it would be happening as an end of term activity and as it still went ahead, I’m guessing there were no objections by those parents who would have children taking part. Since it happened, Eleanor’s not come home demanding a McD’s every night for tea because they had one at nursery so it must be OK, in fact, apart from telling us what she had for lunch that day it’s not been mentioned. As her parents we’re the ones still in control of her diet & we don’t object to her having one as an occasional treat. If we had done, we would have informed nursery of our concerns & I have no doubt they would have listened.
    Going back to what I said earlier, as you or S weren’t directly involved in this activity wouldn’t it be better to request a meeting with Mrs R & discuss things with her, point out the objectionable nature of introducing such blatant advertising into a nursery setting and given current obesity fears you don’t deem it an appropriate activity for pre school children? This way they could maybe re-consider carrying out this particular activity again, especially as S will be moving up there soon?
    We’ve had a long association with this nursery, your children, your sister’s children & me, my sister & our children. My family has been connected with it for over 30 years now in fact & I don’t think they deserve this to be fair. They have provided nothibng but the best care, support & education for D, T, Ethan, now Luke and Eleanor & soon to be S & I just feel this is a bit heavy handed for one mistake. We all make them after all, even professionals. I’m sure it wouldn’t happen again if you discussed things more formally with Mrs R, I just feel this kind of public lambasting without a representative of the nursery being able to defend/apologise/whatever their actions is a tad unjust.

  22. Parent’s are unlikely to stand up and object to something that is considered a ‘treat’ and make an example of their child. Nobody likes to make a fuss, but I suspect a few eyebrows were raised. I’m not the sort to just raise an eyebrow and wanted to make a complaint – which I am going to do. They will have every chance then to defend their behaviour when I forward this and speak to the manager.
    I don’t think that this sort of thing will brainwash children into eating absolutely nothing else apart from junk food, but I do think that in a nursery setting they should be protected from advertising. As I’ve said earlier, fast food advertising is not even permitted on tv for pre-school children, yet in this instance they were handed it on a plate at their nursery.
    It is a public lambasting, because it is a major error from people who are paid and educated to care for very young children. Apart from that, I’d agree, the nursery is exemplary and I have absolutely nothing but praise for it. They need making aware of how bad this error actually was, and they need to know it’s not just the reaction from a random over the top mum – hence whey I’ve asked for advice from Surestart professionals and other organisations who work with children on a regular basis.
    And my son will be going into that group in a matter of weeks, so it is within my rights to be concerned about activities.

  23. I know I’ve just told you on the phone but I’ll say it on here too, having read back some of the stuff you written since I read last your writing is fan-tas-tic. You have a talent indeed.

  24. It is a while since I have worked within Early Years education, and my opinions may well be out of date.
    I do not believe that this is the place to complain about the nursery in question – a formal complaint should be made through their complaints procedure
    If you do not like advertising in nurseries (and it does happen everywhere, your comment about even using the brand name for building blocks is a little OTT in my opinion, after all do you call your vacuum cleaner a vacuum?), then I would suggest that you consider perhaps either home educating or maybe a Montessori style education may be more suited to your requirements.

  25. Thanks for your comments MrsNige. I think it was @JumblyMummy who took issue with advertising in nurseries so you’d have to ask her about that. But in regards to how to complain in the most appropriate manner, I’m going to speak to the nursery, make a formal complaint & query them directly, and I will give them this blog address if they are interested in hearing other people’s opinions – I can’t see that there is anything wrong with that approach?

    I’ve purposefully not named the nursery and will not do so by the way, so I don’t see that this is anything other than exploring issues around branding (and a particularly aggressive brand too) in pre-schools rather than criticising a particular nursery. This is a parenting blog primarily, and I’d say this is an important parental issue – but maybe that’s just me.

  26. No, it’s not just you & your blog is a great way of gauging public opinion & finding out other folks views on the subject which are obviously very supportive. That’s the idea of enabling comments, so readers are able to voice their opinions even if they differ from your own.

  27. sorry Brinkofbedlam, my mistake, it was Emma Button who made the comment about the advertising. With regard to the rest of the blog – I stand by you should have made a complaint to the Nursery rather than criticize them online where they may not be aware of your blog. It could perhaps have been written in a different way to avoid sounding like a direct criticism of the nursery – albeit unnamed. There are other brands who target nurseries, nappy companies (both disposable and eco), toothpaste companies, food companies, Book companies, cleaning products, disinfectants.
    As an EX early years worker, I can see a place for this in a carefully planned programme. Many children sadly do have a regular experience of going to McD and other fast food restaurants. Was this is part of a longer series of experiences. Maybe the children had a trip to a supermarket, or to a local shop or post office? Is there a difference? Was it actually a McD burger? It perhaps could have been done in a different way, by getting the children to make their own burger and to design their own packaging. If the children had been pretending to be in McD they are sharing experiences of the world around them. I am sure that if your child was in the group that had this experience then permission would have been sought, and if not granted then an alternative experience given. Others are right to say that there are many issues to consider when planning a thing like this, including cultural beliefs, food practice and allergies and intolerances. I also find it hard to believe that this was the only source of nutrition for the children that day – although food in nursery provision has long been a bugbear of mine and one of the many reasons that I left Early Years.
    I hope your complaint against the nursery is concluded to your satisfaction.

  28. A nursery should have more sense than to instigate something like this. When my boys were at nursery, if something like this was planned, we would always have the choice to opt in or out. MacDonalds are one of the leaders in brand recognition, so I am not convinced they did not approach the nursery themselves – but that’s just an opinion not a proven fact. Personal choices regarding the types of food your child eats and where that food comes from should always within reason be the decision of the parent. Nurseries generally publish their menus in advance, so I cannot understand why they would take this course of action with consulting the parents.

  29. I’ve spoken to one of the other parents and they were told in a newsletter beforehand, so they were given notice. My son is not in that part of the nursery until a few weeks from now so was not part of the activity, that is why the first I heard about it was on the noticeboard. Whether parents were informed or otherwise, I’m still astounded it went ahead. I think a lot of it is to do with people not wanting to be the one who makes a fuss, or maybe parents really aren’t bothered about branding (in particular McDonalds) being introduced to a nursery, which I find astounding. Either way, I think it’s unfair to put parents in a position where they have to make a stand against a fast food company in a nursery setting – and because of pressure to conform I suspect even doubtful parents felt obliged to allow their children to take part.

    Mrs Nige, I’m not sure if this was part of a series of experiences or not, but even if it was, they could have designed their own paper as you suggest.

  30. I think things have gone a bit made these days with schools not allowing any crisps or biscuits in packed lunches, and preschools having browning pieces of apple and soggy cucumber for mid morning snack. A bit of variety never hurt anyone. So this? This really surprised me. I wouldn’t want my kids treated to McD’s at school – those treats are reserved for parents and down days.

    M2M

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