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Prevention Institute E-Alert: February 29, 2016

Targeting Children and Communities of Color, McDonald’s Actions Speak Louder than Words

McDonald’s observes Black History Month this year with a new marketing campaign, Nuggets of Knowledge, which quizzes consumers on the accomplishments of Black people and offers a grand prize of a year of free Chicken McNuggets. These PR tactics of simulating social responsibility are a too-familiar cover for unethical corporate behavior. McDonald’s exemplifies the ways the fast-food industry targets children and people of color, perpetuates an unsustainable food system, and exploits its low-income workforce.

In an op-ed published in AlterNet and Nation of Change, PI’s Juliet Sims and Kinnari Shah looked at the jarring contrast between McDonald’s artfully spun PR image -- as a champion of communities of color and an instrument of career advancement -- and the real impact of its policies on workers, children of color, and communities of color.

Sims and Shah write:

[W]hat kind of good neighbor stalks children with ads for unhealthy foods everywhere they go, following them into their classrooms, crowding their neighborhoods with advertisements, and viral marketing to them through online games? McDonald’s deploys celebrities and athletes of color and borrows liberally from hip-hop culture to market to Black children. It uses websites such as 365black.com, MeEncanta.com, and MyInspirasian.com to target specific racial groups.

When it comes to McDonald’s primarily low-income workforce, the company prioritizes bonuses for executives over living wages for employees stranded below the poverty line:

It’s not that McDonald’s can’t afford to pay their employees living wages; it just refuses, preferring to rely on federal aid to sustain its unjust pay structure. When employees asked for financial help, McDonald’s set up a “McResources” hotline that briefed employees on how to apply for federal poverty benefits like food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and Medicaid. More than half of fast-food workers’ families receive some form of public assistance….

Read the full op-ed at AlterNet and Nation of Change.

Watch "We're Not Buying It"

Watch and share our two-minute video, which reveals the lengths to which food industries go to promote unhealthy foods to children, including advertising in classrooms. A Spanish-language version,“No nos la tragamos” is also available.

Setting the Record Straight

This powerful call to action, endorsed by nutrition and health professionals, sets out a definition of healthful food that "recognizes that healthful food comes from a food system where food is produced, processed, transported, and marketed in ways that are environmentally sound, sustainable and just." Read the rest.

Metrics to Achieve Health Equity

Our report analyzes how disparities in health outcomes are produced and how health equity can be achieved by addressing the determinants of health. 

Reducing Inequities in Health and Safety

Community and healthcare factors affect well-being and equity. This paper introduces a systems-level framework for achieving health equity.

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