McDonald’s to close at Ind. children’s hospital

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A McDonald’s restaurant that served burgers and fries for years in a central Indiana children’s hospital is closing its doors amid the hospital’s growing emphasis on offering healthier fare.

The fast-food restaurant at Riley Hospital for Children just west of downtown Indianapolis will close at year’s end.

Hospital officials said it no longer makes sense for the hospital to provide a home to a restaurant that features sugary beverages and high-fat, high-salt foods.

“It’s really just an evolution of our continued efforts to fully comply with the Partnership for Healthier America,” Russ Williams, Riley’s chief operating officer, told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1gFDAyc ).

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine issued a report last January which named Riley one of the five worst children’s hospitals for its food environment.

That report came two months after Indiana University Health, Riley’s parent company, joined the Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan partnership that’s working to decrease childhood obesity nationwide.

After joining the partnership, IU Health began re-examining its food offerings. Sugary drinks were banned at hospital eateries in the spring, although McDonald’s received a temporary exemption. Deep fryers are also being banned in accordance with the partnership’s guidelines.

Those guidelines extend only to the in-house food prepared by hospital facilities — not to tenants on hospital property, said Elly Spinweber, a partnership spokeswoman.

But IU Health’s leadership team decided to take the recommendations one step further and end its relationship with the restaurant.

McDonald’s did not immediately reply Wednesday to a message seeking comment.

Beth Johnson, the executive director of the local Ronald McDonald House, said losing the restaurant won’t change the role the facility for patients’ families plays in the hospital.

She said there’s no relationship between where restaurants and Ronald McDonald Houses are located.

Williams said that visitors can still bring whatever food they like into the hospital. And next month, Riley will open a cafe in the lobby of the Simon Family Tower that will remain open 20 hours a day and offer many options, including those that appeal to children.

“We’re not going to only serve broccoli and steamed brussels sprouts,” Williams said. “There will still be things that are fun for kids.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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