Still No Healthy Debate on Airport Concessions

After much debate, the Orange County Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to stick with HMS Host and the $39 million it promises for the John Wayne Airport food concession.

In nearly an hour of testimony from the interested parties and back and forth among supervisors, the discussion touched on such things as the ascetics and localness of the restaurants, and of course all the money that the county will make — roughly $39 million.

But nary a word was spoken about the nutritional value of the food that HMS plans offer the airport’s captured audience. And the lack of public debate on the issue, it seems, mirrored the lack private debate among county officials before the vote.

Nicole Stanfield, spokeswoman for the Orange County Health Care Agency, said she checked and “they (airport officials) did not consult with us and there’s no requirement that they do.”

There didn’t seem to be much weight given to food quality in general. A scoring system was developed to compare HMS and its competitor Delaware North Companies. The categories included “store concepts,” “improvement plans,” “experience and qualifications,” “financial viability and background data” and proposed rent.

But there was no category labeled “food.”

This fact was not lost on one supervisor. “When I go to a restaurant, the quality of food is a little more important to me than the architecture,” said Supervisor John Moorlach.

At least one major airport food, and its nutritional value, is a key factor.

If you are one of the 88 million people who travel through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport each year, your options include such things as fresh salads, fruit, light sandwiches and vegetables.

“We try to meet our passenger needs,” said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Al Snedeker, “particularly now with the airlines not providing food as they once did, providing food in the terminal and concourses is even more important.”