Hello, fellow Mamas! I am a high school teacher as well as the mom of a 10-year-old and twin 6-year-olds. I am also taking graduate hours through an online university towards a master's degree in political science. It is a unique experience to be both teacher and parent! Join me on my journey through the trials and tribulations of parenting!

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Is the new Happy Meal a good change?

McDonald’s is making another change to their Happy Meal menu (see New York Times article here) in an effort to become a healthier place to eat.  Beginning in September, around 14,000 stores  in the United States will begin offering a smaller 1.1 oz portion of french fries and a smaller 3-5 slice (1/4 cup) portion of apples in each happy meal.  This change is scheduled to extend to all stores in the United States by the end of the first quarter of 2012.  The apple dipping sauce is also scheduled to be phased out soon to cut even more calories.

We don’t eat at McDonald’s often, but it is a staple when we travel. Since we visit family at least three times a year and often take other road trips, it is a necessary evil that we visit the Golden Arches at least once on each trip. And most families in a hurry to finish the day’s drive just don’t have the time or the inclination to stop at a sit down restaurant with kids who have been cooped up in car seats for hours…and that is where fast food comes in.

We have always gotten our children white milk and apples with their Happy Meals, so this is not a healthier change for us. I called the McDonald’s contact number on August 5th, 2011, to find out if we would still be able to get the 8-10 slice (1/2 cup) portion of  apples instead of the french fries. According to the information that he had, those packages will still be available, but he didn’t know what the individual franchises would offer. (85% of all McDonald’s are franchises.) You might be able to pay a fee to upgrade to the larger apples, or the larger packet might be offered with the Mighty Kids meal. He also suggested speaking to the manager in order to either get the larger package with no fries, or two smaller packages of apples instead of the fries. This seems like a lot of work to get the healthiest option…

Here is hoping that the McDonald’s everywhere will keep offering apples instead of fries at no extra charge. Mention it if you happen to visit a McDonald’s and maybe word of mouth will keep your local store in line.  While almost all fast food places have the option of fruit instead of fries, most of them charge an extra fee (I know that Chick-fil-a and Burger King do) .  What is your opinion on this change?  Do you know any other fast food places (other than McDonald’s and Subway, both of which currently offer apples and milk at NO charge in their kids meal) with healthier options at no added cost?

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