Retire Ronald McDonald Local petition targets Portsmouth locations
DOVER — Local activists are putting forth a petition this week requesting the retirement of longtime fast food icon Ronald McDonald.
The Retire Ronald campaign, part of the Value the Meal Campaign effort initiated by Corporate Accountability International, is taking aim Thursday at McDonald's franchises in three locations around the nation, including Portsmouth.
Sriram Madhusoodanan, the Portsmouth organizer with Corporate Accountability International, said the organization targets aggressive marketing aimed at children that promotes unhealthy food and therefore plays a significant role in dietary diseases in children.
"We're trying to put an end to that aggressive marketing," he said.
The petitioning event will take place Thursday, kicking off at the Portsmouth Public Library's Study Room 1 on the second floor with a media information session from 10:30 to 11 a.m. The group will then travel to the McDonald's located at 1000 Lafayette Road around 11:20 a.m. to deliver the petition.
Peter Napoli of McDonald's franchise owner Napoli Group has been invited to attend. The Napoli Group owns eight stores on the Seacoast.
Participating in the petition presentation will be April Powell, a certified nutritionist and founder of InviteAbitE, a local father, students from Portsmouth schools and Madhusoodanan.
Madhusoodanan said these local volunteers have already gathered more than 300 signatures from area residents.
According to a statement from Corporate Accountability International, the effort is fueled by a growing number of children who are overweight or obese, which predisposes them to "a lifetime of debilitating conditions from diabetes to heart disease."
In addition, the group notes new U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines linking consumption of fast food with increased risk of obesity.
The group also cites studies from the Institute of Medicine and the National Bureau of Economic Research that suggest curbing promotions of McDonald's-style fast food to children could have a profound affect on children's health.
"We need to stop the spread of junk food marketing," Madhusoodanan said, adding they are targeting McDonald's because it is "the industry leader and really sets the tone. We want them to lead the way as an industry leader."
As for why Portsmouth has been selected as a location for the effort, Madhusoodanan said, "Portsmouth is a community that clearly very much values local food and sustainable agriculture. The health community and parents here are really ready to tackle this problem."
Petition events, all coordinated by Corporate Accountability International, will also be taking place in Portland, Ore. Brooklyn, N.Y. and Burlington, Vt.