DENVER, July 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In the neighborhoods of west Denver, many residents, particularly the elderly, suffer from nutrition-related illnesses, like high rates of diabetes and heart disease. The problem is compounded by lack of access to adequate nutrition education and grocery stores that offer good selections of fresh, healthy food.
Today ARAMARK, the global professional services company, will create an ARAMARK Building Community Opportunity Zone that will be a hub for ongoing nutrition and wellness programs at Southwest Improvement Council (SWIC), which provides 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. In fact, more than 15 percent of Coloradans over 65 suffer from diabetes," said Jan Marie Belle, SWIC's executive director. "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."
This effort is part of ARAMARK Building Community (ABC), the company's global volunteer and philanthropic program focused on strengthening local community centers and helping struggling families 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. Our culinary and nutrition experts help people achieve healthier lifestyles that are essential to leading happy, productive lives," said Carl Mittleman, Regional Vice President for ARAMARK Sports and Entertainment. "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.
About Southwest Improvement Council (SWIC)
Southwest Improvement Council is a nonprofit charity formed in 1987 by the residents of Westwood, an impoverished neighborhood in urban southwest Denver. SWIC's purpose is to improve living conditions for its residents through civic engagement, health and human service programs, and affordable housing, by identifying and building on the assets of the people in the community. SWIC's first projects included neighborhood cleanups, home repairs for seniors, and after-school education programs for children. Today SWIC provides housing counseling, meals and food for seniors, exercise and fitness programs, health and disease-prevention programs, afterschool programs for youth, evening recreation and gang-diversion programs, an urban wildlife refuge and 19 units of affordable multi-family housing. SWIC serves more than 3,000 people each year. Visit www.SWIC.denver.org for more information.
About ARAMARK Building Community
ARAMARK Building Community enriches the lives of families in need by supporting local community centers to help people of all generations learn, earn and thrive. ARAMARK recognizes the important role community centers play in addressing the comprehensive needs of individuals and families and is providing a range of resources including grants, volunteers and in-kind contributions. Since 2008, ARAMARK has invested more than $7 million in volunteer expertise, cash and in-kind resources to strengthen the capacity of local community centers, involving 15,000 ARAMARK volunteers through over 500 volunteer activities. Nearly 3 million individuals and families served by community centers have been aided by the program through workforce training and job placement; nutrition education and awareness programs; access to food and clothing; and by having a safer place to learn and thrive. Visit ARAMARK for more information. Please join us on Facebook.
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, parks and destinations and businesses around the world. The company is recognized as one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute, one of the "World's Most Admired Companies" by FORTUNE magazine and 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 250,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at www.twitter.com/aramarknews.
Contact: Mary Rucci, ARAMARK