Bay Area Action: UnHappy Meals, Joyful meals

If you’re in the Bay Area, there are two major ways you can get involved this week to shape a better food system here. One’s fun, the other’s just a click away.

First, if you’re here, why not support the Oakland Food Policy Council’s first fundraiser this Sunday at their Party With A Purpose. Anna Lappe and Jason Harvey will be there, as will a great deal of quality food – it’s being held at Pizzaiolo, home of some of the most inventive and delicious food-on-bread combinations anywhere on Earth.

Some of the worst food-on-bread combinations are the target of the other thing you can be doing in the Bay Area. You may remember the campaign against Ronald McDonald. Well, the folk who brought you that campaign are helping to support some very local, very concrete changes in San Francisco. Corporate Accountability International’s Value [the] Meal organisers are here in the City, helping to advance the San Francisco Healthy Meals Incentive, which would set nutritional standards for fast food toy giveaways. The fast food industry is a little upset. They’re striking back saying that parents should be ‘free to choose’. They’re right – the minute my kid’s happiness is hitched to the purchase of fast food, I have lost a choice. Sadly, I don’t think McDonald’s is spinning it quite that way.

The ordinance faces a crucial hurdle next Tuesday, October 19th when the full San Francisco Board of Supervisors casts its vote. Earlier this week, the Board’s swing vote on the bill, Bevan Dufty, said he needs to hear from more people in favour of the bill.He is hearing from McDonald’s, franchise owners, and other special interests in the lead-up to the vote, including the Kansas firm C3, the leading marketing agency that makes toys for kids’ meals. McDonald’s has already admitted that none of their kids’ meals would meet the nutritional standards of this legislation. So instead of making Happy Meals healthier, they are fighting tooth and nail. They’ve hired an influential lobbying firm, taken out a full-page ad in the Chronicle, flown in executives and corporate “nutritionists” from Illinois, and even threatened to sue the city to try and defeat this ordinance.

In order to win on this ordinance, we need to convince Sup. Dufty to be the 8th vote so that it passes veto-proof since the Mayor has said he will veto it. Time is tight; the vote is this Tuesday, October 19th. Value [the] Meal’s organizer on the ground met Dufty yesterday, and he confirmed that he is still undecided and made it clear that he needs to hear from his constituents, local businesses and organizations to vote in favor of this legislation. He noted that right now he is mostly hearing from the opposition in the form of negative comments on SF Gate and in his inbox.

So here’s what needs to happen.

  • Sign this petition.
  • Tell your friends, especially if they’re in Dufty’s District (Castro/Noe Valley/Mission–District 8) to contact Dufty directly either by email (bevan.dufty@sfgov.org), phone (415-554-6968), or in-person drop-in to his office (City Hall Room 268). Below is a sample script you can use.
  • Show up to the Vote on Tuesday at City Hall! Dufty is known for not making up his mind until the very last minute. Before the vote, Dufty has open office hours from 1-2:00. Packing his office with people so the final voices he hears before walking in to vote are supportive ones is going to help, as will going from his office to the board vote at 2:00 so that he can see supportive faces in the audience as he makes his decision. Deborah, V[t]M’s organizer, will be there and will also have large stickers for people to wear to demonstrate their support for the ordinance during the vote. Watch this space to hear more.
  • ——————-
    Script for Dufty Call

    Thank you for calling Supervisor Dufty to express support for the Healthy Meals Incentive Initiative, which will help limit one of the most prevalent types of unhealthy food marketing to our kids. The call should take only a minute or two, and will have a big impact. His number is (415) 554-6968.

    When you call the Supervisor, please be sure to tell whoever answers the phone that if you are a constituent of his (otherwise just say you are a San Francisco voter) and be sure to mention if you belong to a group that Dufty has expressed interest in hearing from (physicians, nurses, the LGBTQ community, parents, and especially small business owners)!

    Use only 2-3 of the points listed below when you call, in order to keep it short. Please feel free to revise this script into your own words – it will be more effective that way!

    Sincerely,

    Judy Grant,
    Value [the] Meal Campaign Director

    Hello, my name is [SAY NAME], I am a [San Francisco voter and/or constituent of Supervisor Dufty] and I am calling in support of the Healthy Meals Incentive Ordinance.

    I am [a parent/educator/physician/constituent/restaurant owner/sustainability advocate/concerned citizen/LGBTQ activist/etc., who is] deeply concerned about the fact that our kids are getting sick at younger and younger ages from eating unhealthy food.

    ● Diseases like type 2 diabetes are on the rise here in San Francisco and nation-wide, along with rates of obesity, and marketing like this is a key factor.

    ● The multi-million dollar marketing campaigns targeting our children, including toy promotions, have become relentless. They are part of a business model designed to hook our kids on junk food and perpetuate unhealthy eating habits that often last a lifetime.

    ● Kids meals may be cheap at the register, but expensive in cost to the health care system and in the toll they take on our kids’ health.

    ● This ordinance is an important step toward protecting our kids and enabling parents–not fast food corporations–to educate their children about what’s best for their health.

    ● If health education is going to work, we need to turn down the volume on the marketing of junk food that invades every aspect of a kids’ life – from TV to targeted ads on the internet, to these toy incentives.

    ● We need to level the playing field for our local businesses who do not have billions of dollars to spend on slick marketing campaigns, so we can keep our economy going here in San Francisco.

    Can you tell me how the Supervisor will vote?

    Can you please get back to me when he has decided how he will vote?

    Thank you very much for your time!