McDonald's to give free breakfast 'Thank You Meals' to teachers and school staff starting Monday

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McDonald’s is treating America’s educators to breakfast.

Teachers, school staff and administrators can get a free “Thank You Meal” Monday through Oct. 15 at participating restaurants nationwide during breakfast hours, the company told USA TODAY exclusively.

A valid work ID is needed to get the free meals that will be served in a classic Happy Meal box with a choice of one entree, hash browns and a beverage.

The five-day giveaway is McDonald’s “first big national thank you gesture” for teachers, Jennifer “JJ” Healan, the company’s vice president of marketing, brand content and engagement, said in an interview with USA TODAY.

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The program was inspired by teacher appreciation campaigns at local restaurants and is a follow to last year’s “Thank You” meals for first responders, Healan said.

McDonald’s first introduced the appreciation meals in spring 2020 in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. During the two-week campaign, restaurants gave out 12 million meals to health care workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics.

“We wanted to build on that idea and thank our educators in our communities for all that they’ve been doing and what they do really every day,” Healan said.

McDonald's to give free breakfast 'Thank You Meals' to teachers and school staff starting Monday

As a former teacher, Stefanie Cabrera Bentancourt, an owner and operator of 18 McDonald’s in Miami, believes educators will be touched by the gesture. Her restaurants have dropped off food at schools during the pandemic and over the years have held McTeachers’ Night fundraisers.

“I know this is something that’s going to be so appreciated,” she said, adding teachers have had to pivot and adapt during the pandemic. “This is a big way of getting a big national spotlight on people that are really the backbone of every profession that exists.”

How to thank a teacher online

McDonald’s also is inviting its fans to honor teachers with a social media campaign using #ThankYouMeal on Twitter, TikTok or Instagram now through Oct. 15.

The chain will spotlight some of the most heartfelt messages on its channels and local owners and operators will surprise teachers with breakfast delivery at their schools.

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