Nashville, TN, November 2, 2011 – The Martha O’Bryan Center, which helps families living in poverty find education and employment opportunities, today announced a new partnership with ARAMARK, the global professional services company. The relationship will strategically enhance health and wellness programs for youth, adults and families in the community, where access to nutritious, fresh produce is limited, and more than 25 percent of children are overweight.
To kick off the partnership, nearly 100 ARAMARK volunteers will convert an unused parcel of land into a community garden and create a new produce stand that will provide fresh fruit and vegetables for the center’s early childhood education center, its food pantry, and to other local residents. Martha O’Bryan Center staff, volunteers and members of the community will maintain the garden, and produce from the garden will be combined with donations from local farmer’s markets and given to needy residents, along with other items from the food pantry as part of the program. A gymnasium and playground will also be renovated to provide a place for fitness activities for the community
The community garden will be central to a series on ongoing health, wellness and nutrition programs that ARAMARK volunteers will support. Volunteers will help teach culinary skills to residents as part of the center’s culinary job skills program. This partnership is part of ARAMARK Building Community (ABC), the company’s signature philanthropic and volunteer program, which enriches the lives of families by strengthening local community centers.
“Martha O’Bryan Center is surrounded by soul-killing poverty,” said Marsha Edwards, the center’s Chief Executive Officer. “ARAMARK is helping us fight the health issues that arise for our neighborhoods because they live in a food desert that is geographically isolated from full-service grocery stores that provide nutritious foods -- few residents have cars or easy access to public transportation. The community garden and produce stand will provide our clients with much-needed healthy food.”
Edwards added that more than 87 percent of the children in the neighborhoods surrounding the center are living in poverty, and 34 percent of the families there are eligible for food stamps. Only about 55 percent of the adults in the community are employed. Nutrition-related health problems are also an issue. More than 25 percent of the children in Davidson County, where the center is located, are overweight or obese.
“At ARAMARK we recognize the important role that community centers like the Martha O’Bryan Center play in helping families and individuals live healthy, productive lives,” said Gary Crompton, President, ARAMARK Business Dining and local ARAMARK Building Community executive sponsor. “Today is just the start. On an ongoing basis we will bring our culinary and nutrition expertise to provide practical health and wellness and culinary education to this community.”
Through ARAMARK Building Community, the company develops long-term partnerships to strengthen community centers and the important role they play in strengthening communities and families. The company provides a range of resources including grants, volunteers and in-kind contributions to help improve facilities, prepare youth and adults for careers and connect them to the workforce, and encourage healthy lifestyles through health and wellness education and awareness. By the end of 2011 ARAMARK Building Community will be in more than 50 cities impacting more than 2.5 million individuals and families in the US and abroad. Visit ARAMARK Building Community on Facebook.
About Martha O’Bryan Community Center
The Martha O’Bryan Center is a multi-faceted family resource center that provides programs to join families, the community, and schools to support better education and employment opportunities for Nashville’s most at-risk individuals. It serves nearly 4,000 people each year. Currently Martha O'Bryan Center serves primarily children, youth, and families living in and around Cayce Place, Nashville's oldest, largest, and poorest public housing development. It also serves families from the CWA Plaza Apartments, a development that houses 803 residents, 55% of whom are under the age of 18, and a large number of single-parent, female heads of households.
ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. The company is recognized as the industry leader in FORTUNE magazine's "World's Most Admired Companies," and as one of America's Largest Private Companies by both FORTUNE and Forbes magazines. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 255,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at the company's Web site, www.aramark.com, or www.twitter.com/aramarknews.
Martha O’Bryan Center