So Long, Big Mac: Cleveland Clinic Ousts McDonald's From Cafeteria
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Cleveland Clinic, one of the most prestigious names in health care, is taking a stand on food. It announced this week that McDonald's is leaving its food court. The golden arches will be taken down next month, as NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: Cleveland Clinic is a huge operation - 6 million patient and family visits a year. And it also has about 45,000 employees, everyone from nurses and doctors to janitors and accountants, to the workers who push gurneys down the hospital hallways. And as part of an emphasis on wellness, every one of these employees is being nudged to live a little healthier. Cleveland Clinic offers employees free gym memberships, free access to Weight Watchers and increasingly more healthy options in its cafeteria. So when it came to renewing McDonald's lease, Cleveland Clinic spokesperson Eileen Sheil says the decision was it had to go.
EILEEN SHEIL: That wasn't what we wanted here.
AUBREY: Sheil says her organization wants to model the health care of the future by focusing on the prevention of diseases, including obesity.
SHEIL: Cleaving Clinic wants to help patients and visitors and our employees really turn to healthier lifestyles and healthier choices.
AUBREY: Cleveland Clinic isn't the only hospital to nudge fast food operators out. Sriram Madhusoodanan of the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International sees the decision as part of a broader trend.
SRIRAM MADHUSOODANAN: It's the seventh hospital since 2009 to sever ties with McDonald's.
AUBREY: Madhusoodanan points to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City. Now, it's not that McDonald's doesn't offer more fresh food than it used to - everything from fruit in Happy Meals to kale salads. But Madhusoodanan says its customers still go for the traditional menu.
MADHUSOODANAN: McDonald's most profitable items remain burgers, fries and soda.
AUBREY: So lots of sugar, fat and salt. The move to push McDonald's out certainly doesn't sit well with everyone. In Cleveland, commenters to a local news site have complained that shuttering McDonald's takes away one of the most affordable options in the Cleveland Clinic cafeteria. It's a sentiment that is shared by McDonald's customers all over the country, people like Antonio Luna (ph) who was eating at a McDonald's in suburban Maryland.
ANTONIO LUNA: I try my best not to spend a lot of money, so I come here for the dollar menus.
AUBREY: Cleveland Clinic says it's aware of the high priority on value. So as it looks to replace McDonald's, the idea is to find a vendor who can serve up healthier food at good prices. Allison Aubrey, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.