McDonald’s “Mom” Gilda McHenry
This past summer, Downingtown freelance writer and mother of three Gilda McHenry was chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants to join six other “Mom Quality Correspondents” on a tour of McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. Their mission: to learn about the fast-food giant’s latest efforts to serve more nutritious fare. Read more about her trip at mcdonaldsmom.com.
MLT: How old are your kids?
GM: Three, 5 and 10, and a
stepdaughter who’s 14.
MLT: What’s your favorite McDonald’s item?
GM: I used to order a cheeseburger and fries. I’m now allergic to cheese, so it’s a burger and salad.
MLT: What about your kids?
GM: My oldest son loves the double-cheeseburger; the others like Chicken McNuggets.
MLT: Why did you sign up to be a quality correspondent?
GM: As a mother, I’m concerned about
my kids’ health—but mostly I want to see them happy. I wanted to find a balance between making them happy and providing adequate nutrition.
MLT: What did your family think of your participation in the program?
GM: They were thrilled. We went on three-day trips, so McDonald’s paid to have my mother come in from Florida. They love Grandma.
MLT: What are some healthy McDonald’s items kids actually like?
GM: Apple dippers—sliced apples with a caramel dipping sauce—are a healthy alternative to fries. You can also order low-fat milk instead of soda—and they’ve done away with super-sized portions.
MLT: Any new items?
GM: I sampled a new product but can’t go into any more details. All I’ll say is it’s nutritious and our kids will enjoy it.
MLT: What role should McDonald’s play in kids’ lives?
GM: If you feed your children healthy, balanced, nutritious meals, McDonald’s is a treat.
MLT: Does McDonald’s have any advantages over other restaurants?
GM: Family restaurants have humongous burgers—and my kids eat hamburgers when we eat out. McDonald’s has nutritional info on the Web and
its place mats—calories, sodium, cholesterol and allergy statements.
MLT: Who was the most interesting person you met on your trip?
GM: During the tour of McDonald’s headquarters, we met with one of the head chefs, Chef Dan, who demonstrated the process of brainstorming and reviewing new menu items.
MLT: What’s the most surprising thing you learned?
GM: That Chicken McNuggets are higher in protein and lower in calories than a grilled cheese sandwich.
MLT: How did your career as a writer affect your role as a correspondent?
GM: As a mom, I’m asking questions on behalf of my kids. As a writer, my line of questioning delves deeper into each topic. Having the experience of writing articles and doing interviews helped me with the process. I asked questions people would want to
know the answers to.