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 fast-food giant 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.

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 donated food to schools in the wake of the pandemic, and have also held McTeachers Night fundraising events over the years.

“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.”

Online thanksgiving for teachers

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.

It will highlight some of its most touching messages and surprise local operators and owners with breakfast deliveries to schools.

McDonald’s teacher “Thank You” meals

McDonald’s requires educators to present a valid ID when they visit a McDonald’s drive-thru or counter in order to receive a free meal. Breakfast hours are limited to one person. This can change depending on where you live, but it is usually at 10:30 am.

The entrée choices are an Egg McMuffin, a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit or a Sausage Biscuit. You can choose from iced or hot coffee, or soft drinks. You can choose from a variety of menu items.

Although the meals come in a Happy Meal box, McDonald’s will include a thank you note to educators instead of a toy.

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