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Giving Back to Students and Our Communities

Community |  9.17.2020

Each September on Aramark Building Community Day, employees around the world give back to build local communities, reduce inequality and increase access to opportunities. This can come in the form of helping children and families gain access to healthy food and nutrition education, improving community centers, or teaching job skills that guide people on a path to a better future.

But 2020 is no typical year.

Taking into account COVID-19 related safety and social distancing guidelines, we’ve reimagined Aramark Building Community Day with a renewed focus on supporting local efforts and encouraging employees to give back in their own neighborhoods.

More than 70,000 Aramark employees have volunteered their time and talent to support Aramark Building Community projects since 2008. 

New Ways to Enrich and Nourish Lives

“Building local communities has been a long-standing priority and remains one of the focus areas of Be Well. Do Well., our plan to positively impact people and the planet,” said Jami Leveen, Vice President of Community Partnerships. “While we won’t be able to celebrate Aramark Building Community Day in the same way this year, we are supporting our communities and allocating resources where they are needed most.”

This September, Aramark Building Community Day focuses on supporting students learning in unprecedented times and their families in tangible ways—all tied to health, wellness and education. We will also disburse grants globally through our network of community partners to 60 organizations to provide pandemic relief, back to school prep and access to healthy food.

Back-to-School Gets SMART

Whether K-12 school students are learning in classrooms this year, learning virtually from home—or participating in a hybrid option—it’s crucial they get the tools they need to learn.

In collaboration with City Year, we are assembling and distributing back-to-school supply kits at schools with School Health Model for Academics Reaching All and Transforming Lives (SMART) Health Clinics.

“SMART clinics are a valuable resource for the students and community,” said Angila Faison, Director of Community Engagement for Aramark at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). “They’re located in areas of the city where families have limited health, wellness and nutrition resources.” Read more about SMART clinics.

On September 17, Aramark volunteers and SMART clinic personnel at several CPS locations in Chicago will hand out bags with pencils, pens, notebooks, rulers, hand sanitizer, personal hygiene items and headphones so students can better focus on learning at home. Nearly 3,600 students will receive the back-to-school kits. In Pickens County, Alabama—where public school students are returning to the classroom—we are distributing supplies to about 1,700 students through four SMART clinics. Supplies include alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable masks and hand soap.

Aramark volunteers plant gardens, paint playground areas and more at a Chicago Public School.


Global Community Grants (and More)

Since 2007 Aramark and the Alliance For Strong Families and Communities have worked together to provide funding directly to local community organizations. This year, we are providing dozens of grants to community organizations around the world. The grants—to be used for food, emergency supplies, back-to-school kits and general health and wellness items—are being made available to nonprofit organizations in 60 cities in the US, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Canada and South Korea, benefiting more than 105,000 people.

In addition, our employees are giving back in other ways, including:

  • Five Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are coordinating donations to a portfolio of community partners across the US. Open to all employees, ERGs create safe spaces for different community members and their allies. Our Rising Sun ERG is donating to Indigenous Works and Pride is supporting the William Way LGBT Community Center.
  • Our Supply Chain team donated hand sanitizer to a Miami nonprofit agency for kids going back to school.
  • Our Uniforms team donated 250,000 face masks to the American Red Cross to protect workers and volunteer donors during blood drives.
  • All employees are encouraged to get involved in their local neighborhoods while still staying safe. 

Ways You Can Give Back

Looking to give back in your own community? Here are a few tips.

  1. Pick a nonprofit organization that focuses on causes you feel strongly about. Don’t know where to start? Try VolunteerMatch.
  2. Reach out to find out what the group needs—and how you can best help.
  3. If needed, collect shelf-stable food, personal hygiene items, clothing, or supplies. Many organizations have contactless drop-off methods.
  4. Coordinate collection and delivery—in your own vehicle or from home.
  5. If you aren’t comfortable volunteering in person, consider making a donation online.

Not Just a Day, a Lifetime

Aramark’s commitment to and passion for helping people in the communities in which we live and work is a year-round, global effort—and one which has driven success across different communities in myriad ways. For a glimpse, watch our 2018 video, Aramark Building Community: A Decade of Impact.

“Right now, it’s more important than ever to find ways to give back and support our mission to build local communities, reduce inequality and increase access to educational opportunities,” said Leveen. “At Aramark: We care. We give. We do.”