The Five Guys Dilemma

This is not about how best to load up a burger with the various fixings and condiments available nor is it about whether or not one should take some of the free peanuts from the restaurant even when explicitly asked by a sign by the door not to. No, this is about the ethics and legitimacy of a fast food restaurant, albeit one that is admittedly relatively good at what it does, participating in a school based fund-raiser for Diabetes Research. There is something a little unsettling to me about this, but last night that was the case as my son’s sixth grade class participated in a fundraiser at the local Five Guys to benefit the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure program. Now, I firmly believe that is a very worthwhile cause and I even think that a restaurant chain like Five Guys should do what they can to raise funds for organizations like The American Diabetes Association or the American Heart Association amongst others given the contributions they make to people suffering from those problems in the first place.

I’m not a member of the nutrition police and I believe adults can choose for themselves, so I am not railing against the restaurant from that perspective. They actually have a decent product. What makes me uneasy is tying in a fast food restaurant or any restaurant that really is part of the problem as far as something like diabetes is concerned with school age kids trying to do something for a cause that is really not in line with the kind of food the restaurant is serving. Earlier this year the same group did a fund raiser at AppleBee’s featuring a pancake breakfast, about as bad a breakfast for a diabetic as there is. At both of these fundraisers, students would help out at the restaurants greeting patrons, cleaning tables and even serving food and waiting tables. Is this really sending the right message to the kids (6th graders)? What do you think?


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7 Responses to The Five Guys Dilemma

  1. Marco says:

    This is more than a little shakey and, as much as I like their burgers, exploitive.

  2. Marco says:

    typo, that should have been “exploitative”

    • docsconz says:

      One thing that’s not clear to me is which party approached the other. I suspect it was the school that approached area businesses and these businesses anted up while others didn’t. I am not so quick to cast blame on the restaurants, as tasteless as I think the whole situation may be. All parties are trying to do something good. I just don’t care for the association, especially with kids. Thanks for reading and commenting, Marco!

  3. amy persons says:

    My son and I participated in our first Applebee’s pancake fundraiser this morning, so your post is timely for me. The cause was for an end-of-year field trip, and as fund raisers go (think pre-fab, frozen cookie dough) the profit margin was grand, and the product better than said cookie dough. At least it was social and communal, but you raise some valid questions.

    • docsconz says:

      Though a pancake breakfast at Applebees has no particular appeal to me personally, I have less of an issue with a pancake fundraiser for an end-of-the year field trip than I do for one for diabetes research. There is a bit of hypocrisy with the latter and none with the former.

  4. While I do see your point, I really cannot take issue with Five Guys and their hamburgers, or Applebees’ pancake breakfast, (I have never had either) and their support for diabetes research. There is nothing wrong with pancakes, or a hamburger, if eaten in moderation as part of a total balanced diet. No one develops diabetes from hamburgers and pancakes. Eating things like hamburgers and pancakes every day – or foie gras for that matter – can result in lots of problems, including obesity and possibly diabetes.

    • docsconz says:

      I am not really taking fault with the restaurants either, but to answer your point, do these restaurants really espouse moderation? Not in my experience, but that isn’t really the issue either as I see it. It is more the association of these restaurants with something good that is ostensibly promoting a healthier lifestyle. Despite being a physician, I am obviously not a health fanatic when it comes to food – at least not when it comes to eating or totally avoiding certain things. I agree that anything “in moderation” is fine – I learned that from my father, also a physician, who preached that very point. That said, I don’t think that restaurants like these can or should ever be associated indirectly or not with good health, especially with kids. I don’t believe they need to be shunned, but let’s not be hypocritical either. The fault here lies not with the restaurants, who I think should do even more in this regard, but with the school for sending mixed messages to the kids. While we allowed our son to take part, we also made sure that he understood the dilemma.

      Thanks for commenting!

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