McDonald's Says ‘Thank You' With Free Meals for Health Care Workers and First Responders

McDonald's joins businesses giving thanks to the front line workers during the pandemic and responds to complaints from some workers

Naomi Baker/ Getty Images

With health care workers, police officers and firefighters working to protect and save lives during the coronavirus pandemic, McDonald's is saying thanks by providing a "Thank You Meal" in appreciation of their service.

Most McDonald's locations have remained open while stay at home orders are in place. Thank You Meals will be available through May 5. The meals will feature a choice of sandwiches, sides and drinks from a separate menu.


  • A choice of an Egg McMuffin, Chicken McGriddles or a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit. All options come with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee and a Hash Brown.

Lunch and Dinner

  • A choice of a Double Cheeseburger, 6-Piece Chicken McNuggets or a Filet-O-Fish will be offered. All options come with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee and small fries.

The meals will be packaged in a happy meal box with an appreciative note for health care workers and frontline heroes. Frontline workers will have to show their work badge or be in uniform to receive their Thank You Meal.

“We have been inspired by the way our franchisees have been going above and beyond to support their local communities throughout this trying time,” said Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA in a press release. “I couldn’t be more proud of how our company, franchisees and supplier partners have come together to give back to those who are working tirelessly for our country. That is truly our McDonald’s system at its best.”

The move comes as the Chicago-based burger chain's protection of its own workers, though, has come into question in some cases.

In early April, some McDonald's employees complained about hazardous working conditions that put employees at risk of the coronavirus. Workers at two California McDonald's locations filed complaints with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Mother Jones reported.

Over 700 fast-food workers went on strike in March. Many protesters were employees from McDonald's restaurants who complained of their employers not doing enough to protect them or compensating them for the added risk of working during the pandemic.

In a complaint filed by McDonald's workers in San Jose and Los Angeles, they said the fast-food chain did not provide sufficient soap, hand sanitizer or provide masks. Workers were concerned about their access to paid time off to self-quarantine.

“The conditions in our store pose an imminent danger to our health and that of our co-workers, because [of the] frequent lack of gloves, soap, and hand sanitizer; the fact that we are in very frequent contact with the general public; and the company’s failure to create an effective social distancing system for workers and customers,” the San Jose complaint states.

In response to the complaints, McDonald released a statement on April 16 saying they are "continuously making changes to the process and restaurant operation with safety top of mind."

McDonald's and their franchises have since secured over 100 million non-medical grade masks for their restaurant employees. As the masks arrive, they will be distributed to the areas with the greatest need and the rest will follow by the end of the month, the company said. While awaiting masks the company has encouraged its employees to use DIY masks.

In addition to that statement, McDonald's told NBC: "In the U.S. we’ve changed nearly 50 processes in-restaurant for restaurant crew safety – wellness checks, protective barriers, social distancing guidelines, using gloves and distributing 100 million+ masks to crew."

The restaurant chain updated its health and safety guidelines and provided an infographic for employees.

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