Feature Article - September 2005
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Eater's Digest

Concessions and food service for increasingly health-conscious consumers

By Kara Spak

In August 2000, Johanna McCloy attended a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game, hoping to spend the summer evening rooting for her home team.

Instead, she spent time circling inside Dodger Stadium, looking for a meal that would satisfy both her appetite and the demands of her vegetarian diet. There were pretzels, yes. And popcorn. She saw nachos with cheese and peanuts.

But McCloy could find no meatless, healthy options to help sustain her during nine innings of America's favorite pastime.

"I thought, this is ridiculous—this is L.A.," McCloy says.

She later learned it wasn't that she was looking in the wrong place in the stadium. Rather, there were no such options available. Dodger Stadium and the bulk of America's ball fields, zoos, waterparks and concession facilities often offer little to nothing that remotely resembled truly healthy fare.

That trip to a ballpark five years ago spurred McCloy to pick up the phone and place a call to the concessions manager at Dodger Stadium. Soon thereafter, vegetarian submarine sandwiches were offered on the menu. Veggie hot dogs eventually were added to the Dodgers' menu as well.

Now, sumptuous soy-filled sausages aren't the only things McCloy has on her plate these days. She's running a for-profit company she founded to help match meatless, healthier concession options with concession stands across the country.

She's not the only one making the call for a healthy variety of food. Across the country, consumer demands for more health-conscious foods of all kinds—vegetarian and healthier preparations of meat—are on the rise at the country's concession venues, large and small.