August 2016

Speaking up for our national parks; Panera’s Kids Meal Promise; A mom asks Stonyfield: why can’t yogurt just be yogurt?; TRUCE reminds us that books can spark play; A new challenge to classroom screen time; Recommended reading and listening.

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In this issue: 

  • Speaking up for our national parks
  • Panera’s Kids Meal Promise
  • A mom asks Stonyfield: why can’t yogurt just be yogurt?
  • TRUCE reminds us that books can spark play
  • A new challenge to classroom screen time 
  • Recommended reading and listening

Speaking up for our national parks

On August 12, CCFC Campaign Manager David Monahan joined staff of Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert for a meeting with the National Park Service (NPS) in Washington, DC. They presented the NPS with 213,926 petition signatures from the members of CCFC, Commercial Alert and CREDO Action, asking the NPS to abandon plans to permit corporate sponsorships and branding in our parks. CCFC members’ powerful comments were featured in a letter delivered with the petition. The meeting was productive, and we will continue to work with our partners to persuade the NPS to keep marketing out of national parks. 

Unfortunately, though, the NPS is already displaying some corporate logos and names in parks in return for corporate funds. We need your help to document them: if you’re at a National Park Service site—which can be anything from an urban historical site to a wilderness preserve—please keep an eye out for corporate logos, and send a pic of any you see to ccfc@commercialfreechildhood.org. And if you have yet to sign the petition, please add your name!

Panera’s Kids Meal Promise

Earlier this month, Panera Bread announced their Kids Meal Promise, which included something that we’re very excited about: a pledge not to market their kids’ meals to children. That means no TV commercials, no toys, no giveaways, and no other gimmicks designed to entice kids. These kinds of marketing tactics are widespread and unfair. They teach children that food is just another form of entertainment, and they get in the way of parents’ efforts to instill healthy eating habits in their kids. As our Executive Director Josh Golin told Reuters, we applaud Panera Bread for making this pledge. We’re thrilled to see a company taking a stand against kid-targeted marketing, and we encourage other companies to step up and follow their lead. You can read more about the Kids Meal Promise, and why we think it's so important, on our blog

A mom asks Stonyfield: why can’t yogurt just be yogurt?

CCFC supporter Tanya Palacio was upset to see licensed Disney and DreamWorks characters on the Stonyfield Organic yogurt she purchases for her kids. So she sent the company an email and told them to do better: “Now when my kids eat your yogurt they are asking about Frozen and the Transformers,” she said. “Why can’t yogurt just be yogurt?” We were heartened when Tanya told us what she'd done to push back, so we shared her note to Stonyfield on our blog. We hope her email is an inspiration to other parents and caregivers to speak up and hold marketers accountable. 

TRUCE reminds us that books can spark play

In a world where screens are king and apps are queen, TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment) has just released a new guide revealing the enchanting kingdom of books. The downloadable TRUCE Guide for Using Books to Promote Play suggests books that can be read at home and school—to children and by children—containing healthy, imaginative ways for kids to play. The guide explains how reading can support and spark children’s creativity and passions, and offers suggestions for specific titles. With topics such as “being bored,” “capes, wands, and dress-ups” or “playing outdoors,” there are book and play ideas every caregiver or educator can put to immediate use. 

A new challenge to classroom screen time

Our friends at Parents Across America (PAA) have just released a position paper and great new resources addressing the risks of overuse of classroom technologies. “Our Children @ Risk” extensively documents the negative effects of excessive screen use on children’s mental and emotional development, intellectual and academic growth, and physical health. The position paper also details how the trend to incorporate digital technologies is driven by corporate interests, not what’s best for children: “While we do not oppose appropriate use of technology… we strongly oppose the push to increase student screen time, replace teachers with packaged lessons delivered by digital devices, and continuously test students, data-mining the results.” 

To read the paper and the supporting resources, including a sample letter to send to your school district, please visit the PAA's website

Recommended reading and listening