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McDonald's: Social responsibility a privilege

Chief executive Jim Skinner says charities like the Ronald McDonald House are 'the right thing to do'

McDonald’s may be known for its “billions and billions” served, but chief executive Jim Skinner gathered with Ronald McDonald and several hundred people in Saint Louis to celebrate a significant, if slightly smaller, milestone — the opening of the 300th Ronald McDonald House.

Skinner was joined at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center by several families of sick children.

Every night the Ronald McDonald Houses around the world accommodate more than 25,000 family members of children who must undergo treatment at affiliated hospitals. During his opening remarks, Skinner said McDonald’s has saved families millions of dollars in hotel room charges by giving them rooms to stay near health-care facilities when they must travel to seek care for their children.

Ronald McDonald House Charities officials said families stay an average of 10 days at RMHC facilities during treatments.

Skinner and Marty Coyne, chief executive of RMHC, noted that the charity stands in contrast to negative publicity McDonald’s receives as the prime target for activists assailing quick-service operators for alleged unscrupulous marketing to children. However, they view the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts not as an obligation but as a privilege, and they said RMHC continues its mission because “it’s the right thing to do.”

Skinner spoke with Nation's Restaurant News about the importance of the brand's image and the consumer experience. He also provided an update on how the company's signature initiatives helped McDonald's weather the recession.

Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].

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