Happy Meal Ban: Middle Schoolers Write to Supes, Critique Toys


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Here's what I think you should say, kids

Six dozen students at a middle school in Brentwood, a suburb 55 miles to the east, wrote to San Francisco City Hall Oct. 15 to voice views on Supervisor Eric Mar's proposed ban on Happy Meal toys, which is scheduled to be heard at today's board meeting.

Unlike hysterical news pundits, who've suggested the bill endangers freedom itself, the seventh graders' verdicts came down both for and against the measure, with views based on more prosaic concerns such as whether or not the toys suck.

Joey, like the other students, had his last name excised for privacy. Like well-raised children through time, Joey has clear ideas about  behavioral cause and effect. He was therefore appalled that Happy Meal toys had been allowed to exist in the first place.


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"Rewarding kids for eating poorly??" Joey wrote. "Kids will just [want] to come back for more McDonald's Happy Meals if they feel that they are being rewarded for eating it."

Even if it were acceptable to reward children for self-destructive behavior, Joey wrote, the Happy Meal toy would still be perverse.

"Some parents say that toys are 'convenient' and are fun for their children to play with," wrote Joey, who, like the other Brentwood kids who wrote City Hall, was fulfilling a classroom assignment. "On the other hand, I do not agree with this statement because the toys that are being made for these Happy Meals are cheap, plastic, boring, and waste of money."

Josue weighed in with similar sentiments. He supported Mar's concerns about the idea off children being induced to eat greasy, sugary, salty McDonalds food. And he questioned the idea that there's much harm in banning restaurants from handing out garbage toys with garbage food.

"The toy that you buy in the store may cost more then the Happy Meal toy, but that toy can do much more then the toy from the Happy Meal," Josue noted.

According to Edna Hill Middle School seventh-grade teacher Marci Parish, the kids were encouraged to write to show off their critical thinking skills. And the letters indeed offered a diversity of opinions, supported by worthwhile insights.

Alexis, for instance, had no problem with San Francisco public officials regulating the contents of Happy Meals. But she thought a toy ban was going too far.

Knowing that Happy Meals are extremely unhealthy and cause obesity if eaten on a day to day basis, maybe, instead of simply banning toys, we can put a little list of all the nutrition facts in a happy meal.

Chad, meanwhile, said responsibility shouldn't be placed on restaurants, but rather parents.

The toys are said to be the problem when it's the parents who don't know what their kids are eating. If you take out the toy in the happy meal then it would have to be called the sad meal!

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