Aramark’s Healthy for Life 20 By 20 initiative, launched in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) several years ago, exceeded its target goals by about a hundred percent in its first year, generating confidence that the program can meet its commitment to achieve a 20 percent reduction in calories, saturated fat and sodium, as well as a 20 percent increase in fruits, vegetables and whole grains across its menus by 2020.
In the first year of the initiative, Aramark was able to reduce calories, saturated fat and sodium by an average of 8 percent across menus served in company-operated workplaces, hospital cafes and college and university residential dining halls. That number exceeds an annual improvement target of 3 to 5 percent the company established as an annual benchmark needed to achieve the 20 percent by 2020 commitment over a five-year period.
More than 10 percent of Aramark menus currently have whole grains as the main ingredient and 30 percent of its main dishes are vegan or vegetarian, according to a company spokesman.
“We've introduced robust and complete vegan options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert,” he notes. “These 100 percent vegan menus omit all animal products and showcase innovative plant-forward options.”
Currently the company has more than 750 menu items as part of its core offerings that it describes as “Eat Well” options. These are defined as having no more than 500 calories, of which saturated fat represents no more than 10 percent and with 700 milligrams of sodium or less. They also include a full serving of nutritionally dense whole food like fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Choices meeting this definition include:
·Tomato soup made with lower sodium vegetable broth and pureed simmered sweet potato and onions rather than butter, which has less than 100 calories and around 300 milligrams of sodium per serving;
·Pork banh mi salad with fresh roasted protein and plenty of fresh vegetables;
·Spiced breakfast quinoa simmered in a mixture of soy milk, turbinado sugar and cinnamon;
·Turkey burgers with attitude, such as apple cranberry turkey burger with grilled apple slices and lettuce on a whole-wheat bun, sweet slaw turkey burger with sweet apple coleslaw and orange-chipotle sauce and spicy cilantro turkey burger topped with cilantro slaw, spicy Sriracha spread, lettuce and onion; and
·150-calorie desserts such as orange carrot thimble cake (moist carrot cake topped with a mandarin yogurt mousse) and Oreo thimble cake (moist devil’s food cake with Oreo cookie pieces topped with an Oreo yogurt mousse).
For traditional favorites like pizza and signature cookies, rather than taking them away, Aramark says it is making strategic “stealth” changes to swap less healthy ingredients for healthier ones.
“We are doing this in a way that does not sacrifice taste,” the company spokesman says. “Overall, with all of the menu changes we’ve made, we’ve actually seen our consumer satisfaction scores increase,” he adds, “which shows that healthier menus and consumer satisfaction and enjoyment are achievable at the same time.”
Engaging consumers in discovering healthy choices is another major part of the 20 By 20 initiative. Working with the AHA, Aramark has delivered quarterly health marketing and education programs in more than a thousand U.S.-based B&I, healthcare and higher education locations, engaging consumers to make healthier choices through healthy marketing, on-site sampling/education and digital/social media programs.
Earlier this year saw the launch of a public awareness campaign called Feed Your Potential 365 that is designed to share information about food and health and thus drive behavior change with consumers, clients, employees, those in underserved communities and the public at large.
Feed Your Potential 365 contains a broad range of education, awareness and engagement materials to help individuals “Feed Their Potential” by discovering what healthy food can do to help them reach their potential and accomplish their best.
In addition to the increase in healthier menu choices and the complementary public awareness campaigns, Aramark has also committed to increasing procurement of local, seasonal and responsibly sourced products by purchasing local produce and products within 250 miles, preferably from small-scale community-based producers that are independently or cooperatively owned enterprises. Also part of the planned commitment are sustainable seafood purchases in accordance with Seafood Watch standards by 2018 and of humanely raised animal products, including eggs, meat and dairy.
To help its front-line teams access these kinds of products, Aramark has entered into an exclusive agreement with the FarmLogix farm-to-institution technology platform, which provides the company’s unit operators with a national search engine of available local, organic and sustainable products, as well as online tools to design, track and create custom reports from self-service dashboards to help plan their needs. The platform allows all farmers and suppliers of local and sustainable products throughout the U.S. and Canada to contribute to the search engine and thus be visible to Aramark sourcing teams.