As many college campuses look to reopen in full this fall for the first time since the pandemic began, Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) joins in the celebration of our students’ resiliency. Upon campus return, students will find that campus dining has evolved over the past two years, offering healthier choices, continued commitment to sustainability, transparency in food sourcing, and an increased presence of local foods.
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As many college campuses look to reopen in full this fall for the first time since the pandemic began, Aramark joins in the celebration of our students’ resiliency. Upon campus return, students will find that campus dining has evolved over the past two years, offering healthier choices, continued commitment to sustainability, transparency in food sourcing, and an increased presence of local foods. Photo shows University of Florida's Local Restaurant Row opening. (Photo: Business Wire)
“The excitement of back-to-school is a little more intense this year,” said Jack Donovan, CEO and President of Aramark Higher Education. “Our goal is to exceed the expectations of our community by offering a robust hospitality ecosystem. It’s not just about serving fresh food; it’s about the adventure of dining, the satisfaction of healthy global cuisine, the confidence in cleaning and safety protocols, and the culture of local partnerships and commitment to sustainability.”
“We survey students on a frequent, recurring basis to make sure that we are aligned with their needs. We were happy to note that during the pandemic, our student, faculty, and staff community actively responded, indicating that 97% thought we were providing a clean and safe environment on campus, 94% indicated that they saw more go-to options on campus, and 93% said we were meeting and exceeding their expectations.”
Healthy for Life
Since 2015, Aramark and the American Heart Association have worked together on a nationwide health impact initiative called Healthy for Life. The initiative includes health inspired menu innovation, student education and engagement programs, and community level nutrition education.
The Healthy for Life work has translated to significant strides in menus offered, with a 20% decrease in average calories, saturated fat, and sodium as well as a nearly 20% increase in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains across the menu. In fact, 34 percent of main dishes are now vegetarian or vegan options.
“Aramark launched a major plant-forward initiative as part of our work with the American Heart Association,” said Dan Wainfan, Vice President of Health, Wellness & Nutrition. “Our plant-forward initiative has been such a success because it focuses on layering in fresh, healthy, flavorful ingredients that many students don’t get enough of. In just the past few years, our culinary teams have created over 300 new plant-based recipes.”
Furthermore, more than 80 campuses will feature Aramark’s True Balance residential or Clean Plate retail allergen stations. These stations avoid ingredients that contain all 8 major allergens, ensuring that students will be able to choose from their revolving menu daily for variety and safety in dining.
“True Balance and Clean Plate are game changers!” said Jill Hamilton, a registered dietician for Aramark Higher Education. “The variety of foods we can offer at these concepts has grown significantly over the years. Our primary focus is to have a go-to spot for those who need to avoid any of the top 8 allergens. There’s a lot of extra training and safety measures that go into them to really provide a safe space. I find a lot of people without allergies eat there too, especially those who are athletes and/or health conscious. The flavors are so fresh. I would highly recommend checking one out.”
Aramark works with colleges and universities to source locally and sustainably in ways that benefit their communities and the planet at large. Aramark’s supply chain experts look to find partnerships that resonate with local communities and with global tastes. Our campuses have more than 6000 small and diverse suppliers in their higher education ecosystem, and our colleges and universities are constantly evolving to find exciting ways to adopt sustainable measures.
- Micro gardens—which fit in a kitchen—are a great source of greens for our campuses. These gardens turn over their bounty more quickly than traditional gardens, use 90% less water, and generate significantly less packaging, food, and transportation waste. Fairfield University, Drew University, William Patterson University, and the University of Hartford will all install their own this fall.
- Local farm partnerships are cultivated daily. A leader in the field, University of Kentucky Dining sources its salad greens from six local family farms, one purchasing commitment of many by campus dining that has helped to provide economic stability to Kentucky agriculture and food systems.
- Custom recipes meld regional bounty and expertise. One exciting project is happening at the University of Minnesota, where our dining team is testing new culinary applications for perennial grain, Kernza. Additionally, Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Beaufort, College of Charleston, and Coastal Carolina University are working together with Seaside Grown to develop a custom pizza sauce that will use all local tomatoes grown on the coast of South Carolina.
A favorite campus innovation is Local Restaurant Row, now available at more than 40 campuses nationally. Through Local Restaurant Row, Aramark partners with local restaurants, food trucks, and area chefs to bring authentic local favorites and global flavors to client locations. This technology-enabled solution allows interested restaurants to self-identify as potential partners, increasing campus cuisine diversity.
“By keeping our pulse on the ever-changing cravings of today’s students and discovering the personality of a particular campus community, we are able to bring local restauranteurs inside of our four walls and not only deliver on authentic flavors, but tell their stories and share their experience,” said Deb Parnigoni, Aramark Higher Education’s Vice President for Marketing. “More than 60% of students said they would continue to support local restaurants post-pandemic so what better way to deliver on their expectations than by bringing local to them while on campus.”
Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) proudly serves the world’s leading educational institutions, Fortune 500 companies, world champion sports teams, prominent healthcare providers, iconic destinations and cultural attractions, and numerous municipalities in 19 countries around the world with food, facilities, and uniform services. Because our culture is rooted in service, our employees strive to do great things for each other, our partners, our communities, and our planet. Aramark has been named to DiversityInc’s “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list, the Forbes list of “America’s Best Employers for Diversity,” the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” and scored 100% on the Disability Equality Index. Learn more at www.aramark.com and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.