I am just back from our extremely successful trip to the McDonald’s Shareholder’s Meeting in Oakbrook, IL – our first ever – and the official campaign launch of Value [the] Meal!
The theme of this year’s meeting was how well McDonald’s stock is doing, and their plans for growth. We were there to remind the corporate leaderships, the shareholders, and the media that these profits are coming at tremendous cost to our children’s health.
On the eve of the shareholder’s meeting, Value [the] Meal released national polling data that shows that the public climate is starting to turn against Big Fast Food:
• Nearly 80 percent of Americans surveyed did not believe fast food was nutritious
• A majority of Americans now believe that the fast food industry is responsible for increasing rates of diet-related diseases, like diabetes
Along with community allies from Chicago, we were able to deliver two hard-hitting statements during the Q&A session:
• I asked CEO James Skinner how McDonald’s would account for the rising financial risk to its business prospects from the increasing rates of diet-related disease. His only real response was that McDonald’s wants people to “feel good” about their visit to their venues – no mention of wanting to help people actually stay healthy.
• Rosa Perea, a health educator and mom from South Chicago, gave a powerful statement about how hard it was for ordinary people, like those in her community, to understand how truly unhealthy fast food really is. Rosa talked about the horrific rates of diabetes in her neighborhood, and asked if the corporation would stop interfering in strong menu labeling laws that require calorie counts on fast food menu boards, and help people avoid contracting this chronic disease. Sadly, Skinner reaffirmed that would keep fighting such common-sense regulations.
• Additionally, Lucia Samayoa, a student from Loyola University, questioned Bob Langert, McDonald’s VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, directly about their siting of restaurants in and near schools. (See our mapping of Chicago schools proximity to fast food restaurants here.) Studies are showing increased obesity rates at schools near fast food restaurants, and there is strong documentation that this has been a strategy upon which McDonald’s has built its brand, yet Mr. Langert denied that McDonald’s sites in or near schools purposefully.
Meanwhile, simultaneous actions across the country marked the official launch of a national campaign that will hold McDonald’s and other fast food giant accountable for the effect they have on our health. Stay tuned for more action updates as the campaign gains momentum!