We have become the target of an organized campaign questioning our role in providing important food and nutrition for people that are in the justice system, and for our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
While we understand and respect the passionate debate around our nation’s prison system and its disproportionate impact on black and other non-white populations, we disagree with how Aramark is being characterized and cast as part of the problem.
In all our work, Aramark strives to create a better world by carefully considering our company’s environmental, economic, social and ethical impact on our dedicated employees and the communities we serve. Enriching and nourishing lives is our mission, and as the largest U.S.-based food service company, we believe that all of our customers deserve healthy, nutritious meals, whether they are businesspeople, students, fans, patients or people in the justice system.
We are actually part of the solution with a strong commitment to rehabilitating incarcerated individuals so they can transition back to their communities. We help rehabilitate them through vocational training so they can get jobs upon release. We also provide scholarships so they can get degrees. In many facilities, the incarcerated individuals who work in the kitchen earn money for their trust accounts and/or a reduction in their time served. None of the information being shared online ever mentions our role with these programs and how they reduce recidivism by as much as 30 percent.
Here are the facts about our correctional services and our track record as a company.
Aramark’s Role with Correctional Services
- We provide food and nutrition services for some State and County correctional facilities.
- Our work helps local governments maintain safe, stable environments while saving taxpayers millions of dollars that are used to provide other vital services and infrastructure for citizens.
- Aramark does not serve U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Centers or have contracts with ICE. We have been inaccurately linked to this issue based on our service to state and county correctional facilities.
- All Correctional Facility menus are designed by Registered Dietitians to meet the nutritional requirements specified by the facility, as well as the guidelines set by the American Correctional Association (ACA). Aramark partners with each individual correctional facility to determine the nutritional specifications for the menus we create (e.g., calories, portions, religious meals).
- We help the transition of returning citizens from incarceration to society through our IN2WORK vocational training program. This program, offered at no cost to taxpayers, has helped reduce recidivism by as much as 30 percent for participants. Our IN2WORK program has earned the National Governors Award for Public Private Partnerships.
Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
- Aramark is committed to treating everyone fairly, honestly and with respect and we have zero tolerance for bias or discrimination of any kind.
- We also pride ourselves on being a leader in diversity and inclusion and have a history of achievements in these areas.
- 36% of Aramark’s Board of Directors and nearly 80% of our total workforce is diverse.
- We have a number of programs to ensure we are able to attract, develop, and retain Black and African American team members. In addition to our Leaders and Employees of African Descent (LEAD) Employee Resource Group, Aramark has thousands of associates in our 10 employee resource groups that focus on supporting diverse communities.
- These include Aramark Dietitians, Aramark Impacto (Hispanic/Latino), Aramark LEAD (African Descent), Aramark Pride (LGBT), Aramark Rising Sun (Indigenous), Aramark Salute (Veterans), Aramark Synergy (Interfaith), Aramark Thrive (Individuals with Disabilities), Aramark WBRN (Women’s Business Resource Network), and Aramark Young Professionals.
- We hire thousands of veterans each year, as well as those who face challenges with physical and intellectual abilities.
- Aramark has been recognized as an employer of choice by many respected institutions, including:
Learnings from Black History Month 2017
Several years ago we regrettably had racially insensitive incidents occur in two of our University Dining locations as part of the celebration of Black History Month.
In both cases, these incidents involved the addition of inappropriate and off menu beverages that offended several customers and were directly against our values for respect of all cultures and heritages.
We accepted responsibility, apologized and took clear and decisive actions to ensure no future incidents occur by taking the appropriate action with the management teams involved, updating our field menu policy, training and events evaluation process.
Commitment to Ethics and Community
- We pride ourselves on being a responsible and ethical company, and we view corporate responsibility as a foundational element of our business.
- Our global volunteer and philanthropic program, Aramark Building Community, partners on the local level with community organizations to address multiple issues, including health disparities, food insecurity and lack of employment skills.
- During our annual day of service, ABC Day, thousands of associates globally help underserved communities.
- We support national and local partnerships, contributing millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations through the Aramark Charitable Fund.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been providing protective equipment (PPE), food and other resources to communities in need.
- We were also proud to help launch the NYC Healthcare Heroes program to provide hundreds of thousands of packages of shelf-stable food, household cleaning and personal care products, and over-the-counter medicine to staff at New York area hospitals.
- We offer before- and after-school meals and assistance through organizations such as Swipe Out Hunger and the Hope Center in Philadelphia, to name a few.
- We purchase from local vendors whenever possible. Currently, we have partnerships with more than 6,000 small or diverse suppliers—about 18% of those are certified as diverse suppliers and our goal is to double that number.
- Aramark generates an estimated $1.9 billion in economic impact for our local communities through our supplier diversity programs with over 14,000 jobs generated.
- The Urban League of Philadelphia partners with Aramark to provide 500,000 summer meals to students.
Our Purpose and Vision for the Future
- Be Well. Do Well. is Aramark’s sustainability plan. It sums up our goal to make a positive impact on people and planet.
- Over the next five years, we are accelerating sustainability efforts and aligning them with our vision for the future: improving the wellbeing of people and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
- Our People priorities are to engage employees, empower healthy consumers, build local communities and source ethically and inclusively.
- Our Planet priorities are to source responsibly, operate efficiently, minimize food waste and reduce packaging.
- Our goal is to provide access to opportunities for our employees, consumers, communities and people in our supply chain.
- We focus on safety every step of the way: in the food we serve, the places we work, and in our daily operations.
Aramark’s service exceeds industry standards, even in extraordinary circumstances. In the precarious time of the COVID-19 pandemic, our people once again demonstrated Aramark’s time-tested commitment to safety. EverSafe™ has been developed in accordance with recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other leading health organizations, and heavily leverages research around society’s expectations, needs, and requirements for transitioning back to the workplace, educational institutions, hospitals, and sports arenas in today’s environment.
EverSafe features five distinct pillars:
- Embedding good health and hygiene practices to support the safety and wellbeing of employees, customers, and guests. This includes carefully designed process standards, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), health monitoring, and promoting culture and environment to sustain healthy practices.
- Creating appropriate spatial separation practices into operations through visual cues, physical alterations, and other service enhancements while maintaining efficient traffic flow.
- Implementing new and enhanced cleaning, sanitation, and disinfecting procedures. This includes new processes, equipment, and cleaning agents, as well as careful assessment of high-risk areas that require special attention.
- Employing available and emerging technology (such as AI, human-machine interface, infrared, robotics contact tracing, and mobile solutions) to further improve the safety and experience of employees and customers.
- Expanding and introducing new service offerings and capabilities with relevant solutions to best meet evolving consumer dining, facilities and other needs.
Commitment to Food Safety and Quality
- Food safety is Aramark’s top priority.
- We are committed to maintaining rigid standard operating procedures for the entire flow of food production at all of our facilities. This includes providing an environment that protects the safety and integrity of food from its delivery, throughout its storage, preparation, transport, and ultimately, to the point of service to the customer.
- In addition to working with local Health Departments, we conduct frequent internal inspections and take the added step to engage independent third-party auditors to evaluate our practices and ensure the utmost safety in our operations.
- We are committed to providing specialized food safety training and certification to all of our food service employees.
- We implement Aramark SAFE (Safety Assurance in Food and Environments) in each of our industries to ensure safety is at the forefront.
- We conduct quarterly and/or annual business reviews, as well as annual client satisfaction surveys, to ensure we are always aligned with our clients’ priorities. Any deficiencies are quickly remedied.