Aramark says it will create an Aramark Building Community Opportunity Zone that will be a hub for ongoing nutrition and wellness programs at Southwest Improvement Council (SWIC), a provider of health and human services programs, affordable housing, meals for senior citizens and other services to underserved neighborhoods of west Denver. In partnership with the SWIC, the company will also launch a series of health and wellness workshops to help combat health issues facing many local residents.
"Obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases are major issues in our community, especially for the elderly," says SWIC Executive Director Jan Marie Belle. "In fact, more than 15 percent of Coloradans over 65 suffer from diabetes. People in this area often have a difficult time finding nutritious food. Our partnership with Aramark, and the work they are doing here today to create a place for our families to focus on health and nutrition, will be key to overcoming barriers to healthy lifestyles."
The effort is part of Aramark Building Community (ABC), the company's global volunteer and philanthropic program focused on strengthening local community centers in 50 cities in the U.S. and abroad. Through ABC, employees use their culinary, hospitality, food and nutrition, facilities management and human resources expertise to create strong and vital communities.
"The mission of Aramark Building Community is to put our skills to work to improve neighborhoods by working with local community centers to enhance their capacity and programs," says Carl Mittleman, regional vice president for Aramark Sports and Entertainment. "Our culinary and nutrition experts help people achieve healthier lifestyles that are essential to leading happy, productive lives. Through our partnership with SWIC, we've been helping people succeed and neighborhoods thrive."
The ABC Opportunity Zone will include a new community health garden, created by the participating Aramark volunteers, to help senior citizens who are in need of access to fresh, healthy foods. The garden will supplement the center's existing food pantry and be available to the dozens of seniors who visit the center each day, including those who rely on the center for their daily lunch. In addition, an unused outdoor area will be transformed into a welcoming outdoor classroom, and will serve as a dedicated space for local residents to learn about nutrition and healthy and active lifestyles.
Aramark volunteers also donated healthy food items such as canned fruits and vegetables and whole-grain cereals for SWIC's food pantry, and a variety of gardening tools for the center's senior citizens to use in the new community garden.
Throughout the year, Aramark culinary and nutrition experts will host wellness educational classes for residents to help them understand health issues and identify solutions such as workshops on "Diabetes and Your Health," and "Shopping for Health." Classes will include healthy cooking demonstrations and nutritional information at the annual health and wellness day.