Nine-year-old Hannah Robertson had the opportunity at a McDonald’s stockholder meeting to ask CEO Don Thompson a question. Here’s what she asked.
“I don’t think it’s fair for big companies to trick kids into eating food that isn’t good for them by using toys and cartoon characters. Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life?”
Mr. Thompson’s reply started with “First of all, we don’t sell junk food, Hannah.” You can listen to the rest of his reply in this video, where he totally ignores what she says she cares about, tricking kids into eating food that isn’t good for them, and defends his company because of all the fruits and veggies they sell.
According to NPR, Kia Robertson, Hannah’s mom and nutrition activist at Today I Ate a Rainbow, took her daughter to the shareholders meeting as “part of a contingent group from the watchdog group Corporate Accountability International.”
Reportedly, Thompson also said, "We're not marketing to schools. We don't do that."
Really? Ronald McDonald has come to my kids’ elementary school to give an assembly. My son says he talked about being healthy. He talked about doing good deeds. When I asked him if he talked about McDonald’s food, my son said, “no.”
When I asked my son if he felt hungry during the assembly, he said, “yes.” I also asked him what he wanted to eat during the assembly. He said, “A cheeseburger and fries.”
When McDonald’s sends Ronald McDonald to a school, whether he mentions eating at McDonald’s or not, it is most definitely marketing. It would be interesting for a school, who has Ronald come to give an assembly, take a survey the next day and find out how many of the students asked their parents to take them to McDonald’s the evening of the assembly.
I’ve gone on record before as saying that I think the burden of the responsibility for keeping children away from fast food is on the parents' or caregiver' shoulders. As a matter of fact, I wrote about that in direct response to Corporate Accountability International’s call for the retirement of Ronald McDonald. The marketing and advertising that corporations do to children drive me crazy, and I’ve gone to what some people may think are extremes to limit my boys’ exposure to them, but I still think parents shoulder the responsibility for what their kids eat.
So, I love that Kia Robertson has gotten her child involved. She's educating Hannah and making eating healthy a whole family responsibility. Yes, they're also asking McDonalds to change something. but this is one parent who is teaching her child that she not only has control over what she eats, she can have all sorts of influence. Good for her.
And, I love that Hannah had the courage to stand up in front of a room full of adults and ask a hard question. Not surprisingly, the answer she got to her question was a run-around, but she asked. Good for her, too.