Going to McDonald’s as a "Community Outing"…….You Have Got to be Kidding Me!

Yes, you read that title correctly.  My son’s class is going on a community outing to McDonald’s (no, I didn’t include Old in that name and NO there won’t be any cute little animals to pet or feed)  and  they will be eating lunch there tomorrow.  Well, my Cody won’t be eating the food, but everyone else will be. I will pack his lunch as usual and he will bring it with him and eat with the rest of his class.  In case you missed it, I made my position on fast food really clear in this recent post.
Earlier this afternoon I got an email from Cody’s teacher giving me some end-of-the-school-year information and mixed in the middle somewhere was a paragraph about how the kids had voted on their final  community outing for the year and McDonald’s won because is was “new”(well, newly re-built), not new and improved.  Same crap, different day.
I will share that Cody is in a special education classroom for the majority of his day and one of the life skills type goals they work on is going out into their community and interacting at businesses, making purchases, working on safety issues, etc.  This is something they have done on a weekly basis, but not usually to a restaurant.  So, when I read the email earlier this afternoon, I was a little surprised to even see that such a place was even included as a choice for the students to vote on.  Did I mention that this school district has a wellness policy in place?  I am pretty sure it carries over to field trip type outings, or at least it should.
I tried to stay calm with my response to the teacher because, honestly, I like her and I know she personally lives a healthy lifestyle as best I can tell.

Here was my initial reaction to her:

I understand allowing the kids to vote to choose their last community trip, but couldn’t you have said there were choices within the choices? I am truly a bit beside myself on this since I have such strong feelings about it. Beyond the fact that I will definitely send Cody with his own food, just the atmosphere upsets me. I will leave it at that for now….really not sure what else to say without coming across, well, like myself. (To clarify for those of you who are confused – by like myself, I meant a bi*ch)

Here’s an excerpt from her response back to me:

For me, the struggle is almost a culture struggle…most of these folk’s families go to McDonald’s, so it’s difficult to reinforce the choices that could be better and not insult people’s choices in “eating out”. It was the number one choice of the kids as a community experience, and believe me, I gave some different ones (free afternoon at the park, tour of the Local Art’s Center, etc.) Sometimes it is very much like a culture-clash, but believe me in that I support your beliefs wholeheartedly.I TRY to reinforce that to eat at a place like McDonald’s needs to be infrequent, and that even the “healthy” choices are not all that great.

What about insulting me?  And my family?  This is exactly the type of thing that pisses me off.  Those of us who make eating healthy a priority are supposed to tip toe around those who make unhealthy choices so as not to offend, but they can say and do whatever they want.  Yeah, that doesn’t work for me!  I can’t count how many times I’ve been put on the defensive about the healthy diet I prefer for myself, and especially for my children.  That’s just bullsh*t, pure and simple.
Aside from that, this is a school outing, not a family outing.  Period.  Fine if these families want to take their kids to eat at such places, fine if they want to send them to school with foods I wouldn’t pack for my child, but when there is a class outing, it should be something suitable for everyone.  Something that promotes health and wellness.
So now I am left with the struggle of a decision.  With such short notice, I probably can’t stop this from happening, but do I pack Cody’s lunch like usual and just cringe knowing where he will be eating it is a place I would never support, or do I pick him up from school during that time frame and bring him back to school when the rest of the class returns.  I am truly torn about this.  Also?  I am really, really angry!


  1. If it was me, I would keep my child home that day and have our own fun community outing.

  2. Cindy Jensen says

    Cathy I agree with you 100 percent that McDonalds shouldn't even be a choice for a community outing. What is that suppose to teach the kids anyway. Like you said culture and the outdoors would be a better choice. A park could teach them about the different types of native plants and wildlife while they eat lunch and play in the fresh air. I would keep Cody home for the day and take him to a museum and let him learn and see new things and have a healthy lunch together or give him a few choices you feel are appropriate.

    Good luck and never care what people think and do what you think is best for you and your family. McDonalds gives people cancer and is not even real food and children don't belong there. No humans should eat there because it's a disgusting place.

  3. I'd keep him home or pick him up and do something with him instead. Going to mcdonalds on a class outing is just uncool. And you are right what about you? This world we live in is kinda crazy.

  4. I'm with everyone else – keep him home from school and do something awesome, healthy and fun together.

    It is absurd to me that McDonalds was even given as an option for the kids to choose. What kind of message is the teacher giving ranking it up there with going to the park or visiting the arts centre?

    Good on you for standing up for what you know is right! McDonalds is NO place for a school outing!!

  5. Not defending the McDonald's of today, but when it began in the 1950's they did serve real potato, real beef, in appropriate portions. Perhaps it's time to help McDonald's in our local communities go back to basics – bring in the fresh local organic produce, beef, chicken, and make Maine McDonald's one of a kind. Each is locally owned and operated. It's time fast food also became healthy food. Maine often leads the way in our country – it would just take one facility to change, and Belfast is the community to make this happen. Perhaps a cooperative with local farms, or the co-op could make this happen. New building, new way of cooking, would bring in new business. All revolves around the almighty dollar.
    In the meantime since you feel so strongly about this outing for your son, he could stay home for the day, he could come home for a special lunch with you, or he could go on the outing with his own packed lunch.
    I think it's more important to look at the big picture, he is with his peers at an activity they chose together (whether it's the right or wrong choice for you).
    You can certainly make your feelings known about more appropriate "outings" for your son, for the next school year – and volunteer to organize the outings through the school year – help make the arrangements to take them hiking or biking – something more physical, and equally fun for the students.

  6. Blfst_cpl says

    your certainly allowed to have your opinions, and for sure can express them and make decisions for you and your family… but in no way should you attempt to "stop it from happening". The group at large shouldn't have to sacrifice or miss out because 1, and only 1, parent objects to this outing.
    You will find, on most athletic trips (away games) the athletes stop at a McDonalds or similar establishment, again, moderation is the key. Thats what the wellness team would also tell you.
    No matter how hard any group tries, "something suitable for everyone" will not always be possible. Everyone has different tastes (no pun intended) and beliefs. The particular program in question has gone to several restaurants, not on a weekly basis, but certainly a few during the year.
    While I don't intend or want to change your mind about your choices, you should show the same respect and not try and force your opinions onto those who want take advantage of this opportunity.

  7. phdinparenting says

    My kids are healthy, well-traveled, educated and enjoy the finer things in life, but if they were given a multiple choice like the one you described in your post, I can guarantee they would be choosing McDonald's too. I don't think there is very much the teacher could have put on that list that would have beat McDonald's in a kid's mind (maybe Disney World??) and that is the saddest part of this. McDonald's already has our children hooked through advertising, sponsorships, colourful plastic playgrounds, etc.

    I agree with you that it shouldn't have been on the list to begin with. It is not an appropriate choice for an educational outing. To me it is similar to asking a group of Grade 10 students if they would like to go to a museum, a concert, or a pub for their end of year school outing. Not even comparable. Not even in the same ballpark.

    You mentioned an educational component to their outings. I am curious what the teacher chose to "teach" as part of this one. I hope part of it was how to make somewhat nutritious choices from an otherwise horrendous menu. If the kids who go their regularly at least came away with an understanding that opting for the milk (instead of pop) and apples (instead of fries) will make a difference to their health, then perhaps some good came out of a situation that never should have happened in the first place.

  8. Blfst_cpl says

    When I state "sacrificing" or "missing out", I meant that some of the kids in this group are not able to do something as simple as go to McDonalds. They where missing out on the ability to connect with peers outside of the classroom there in, such as homeroom, P.E., and in the cafeteria where the student body at large all discuss the "new" McDonalds and its sights, sounds, computer, and on and on. Many students do not have parents who are as involved as you, which, for them, is unfortunate.
    Students actually brought up McDonalds, it was not put out as a suggestion by any adult, but it is a hot topic at the middle school, and this group of kids made a choice, and the adults did not silence their voice.
    There also was a parent participation. One of the students had a mom show up. Had this group chosen a different location, then the parent may have not been as interested (she stated she was looking for an excuse to check it out) in joining her child at lunch.
    McDonalds IS a large part of our community. They employe a number of people, including high school and some middle school (14 yrs old with a work permit), and community outings explore the entire community (age appropriate of course).
    When Cody moves to the high school level, and perhaops gets an opportunity to work at McDonalds (yes, the class he will be going to has had students work there for job training before) will he be allowed to take advantage of this educational opportunity? I understand your beliefs are strong, this question is mere curiousity on my part. I would let my own sons work whever they could in this economy as long as they where treated fair and safe.
    If the students had chosen another restaurant, how many would order greasy hamburgers or french fries anyway? And the class did do a project researching nutritional values before going. The teacher printed nutritional charts from the McDonalds website and was reviewed with each student before the visit. (that part was for one of your other commentators, I am sure you and the teacher had chatted about this piece)
    As for the 1 voice comment, I fully believe they many voices should out way the 1 (voting) and my concern was the statement "I may be to late to stop it"..Those who supported, and even joined, should not have had the event stopped because of 1 persons objection. They should be (and where allowed / encouraged) to make their own choices. Trying to have it stopped would not of been fair to the other parents or students. As you stated about tip toeing around what your choices are, others should not have to tip toe about their personal choices either. Enjoy the summer, and best of luck to Cody. I wish him well.

  9. Trekkienicole says

    Oh yes, and also…the only reason the calorie counts were so "low" was that I put a $5.00 per meal limit on each kid. Some of them were looking the in the 2000+ calorie range with initial choices….all that, and all empty, pretty much nutrition-less calories.

  10. I understand your frustration with even letting the kids choose McDonalds, I'm not a huge fan of them mostly because of their business practices (read Fast Food Nation if you want to be even more riled up). I think I would have let your kid go and just brought his own food or at least a sandwich and he could order apple wedges and some milk. He missed out on the end of the year fun with his fellow classmates that they chose as a class. Sometimes we are put in situations we don't want to be in, but isn't that a valuable lesson to learn too? How to handle ourselves when we are in situations like that?

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge