PHILADELPHIA, March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In Philadelphia, children and families face many challenges in eating a nutritious diet and living healthy lives. In fact, childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportions with more than 40 percent of children in first through 12th grades considered obese or overweight.
Recognizing this issue in its hometown of Philadelphia and around the globe, Aramark is extending its health and wellness platform and commitment, Healthy For Life™, into underserved communities. During the company's inaugural Global Volunteer Day on March 19, hundreds of Philadelphia-area employees will join thousands of colleagues for more than 100 projects around the world in an effort to provide children and families with better access to healthy food, nutritional education and active play and physical activity spaces.
"We are a company with a passion for service and a strong culture of volunteerism. Here in Philadelphia and across the globe today, our employees are demonstrating their commitment to building local communities," said Eric Foss, Aramark President and CEO. "Our mission is to enrich and nourish lives today and throughout the year, leveraging the expertise of our employees to help people make the right nutrition choices and lead healthier lives."
Today at the Lighthouse Community Center in North Philadelphia, Aramark will establish a Healthy for Life™ Zone that will be a year-round hub of health and wellness education and awareness. Volunteers will provide families in need with healthy food options by renovating a food pantry and cultivating a rooftop produce garden. Working alongside children who attend the center daily, volunteers will assemble hundreds of nutritious meal kits for kids to bring home to share with their families. Aramark employees will also create an inspiring and vibrant place for children to enjoy aquatic exercise by revitalizing an indoor pool area with colorful paint and murals.
The Lighthouse is one of 13 community centers that are members of the Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) in Philadelphia, which impact 45,000 people in the city. Aramark has partnered with FNC for more than six years, contributing financial, in-kind and expert volunteer resources year-round to all 13 centers.
"Philadelphia lives with the staggering reality that one in four people live in poverty and face hunger and nutrition challenges," said Diane Cornman-Levy, executive director of the Federation of Neighborhood Centers. "Aramark's ability to apply its culinary and nutritional expertise along with its dedication to transforming our facilities has been invaluable as we share a commitment to making a lasting impact in the lives of families in need. Global Volunteer Day is just the latest example of Aramark's dedication to our city and our neighborhoods."
In communities like North Philadelphia where low-income residents have little access to nutritious and healthy options, childhood obesity and other health and wellness issues are at their worst. Aramark's Healthy For Life™ community engagement program educates families on the simple steps and concepts such as finding healthy choices on a limited budget, preparing inexpensive, nutritious meals and introducing children to healthy food choices.
"Aramark's dedication to this city's residents who are most in need has been a beacon for us at the Lighthouse," said John Lavery, executive director of The Lighthouse. "We're proud to continue our partnership with Aramark in bringing resources to help families live healthier lives in our neighborhood."
Beyond Philadelphia, volunteer projects will take place in cities across North America, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Spain, Germany, China, Korea, Belgium, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and India. Global Volunteer Day is an expansion of Aramark Building Community, the company's volunteer and philanthropic program that enriches lives by helping improve family health, prepare youth and adults for work and support individuals working their way out of poverty in Philadelphia and in 52 cities around the world. Through Aramark Building Community, the company donates time, expertise, financial and in-kind resources to help families in need. Since 2008, in partnership with community centers around the world, more than 20,000 Aramark employees have impacted the lives of some four million families. Please join us on Facebook.
Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) is in the customer service business across food, facilities and uniforms, wherever people work, learn, recover, and play. United by a passion to serve, our more than 270,000 employees deliver experiences that enrich and nourish the lives of millions of people in 22 countries around the world every day. Aramark is recognized among the Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE and the World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Learn more at www.aramark.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
About The Federation of Neighborhood Centers and the Lighthouse
The Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) is a network of community-based institutions that provide programs and services to children, youth, adults and families in Philadelphia. Its mission is achieved by working with member agencies, including the Lighthouse, which serves Kensington and North Philadelphia, to collectively provide culturally sensitive programs and services that are critical to the well-being of inner city children, youth, adults, seniors and families. Since it was founded, the Federation has helped families find and keep homes, learn English, be trained to gain and keep employment, enhance children's educational achievement, recognize and encourage young people and work towards the creation of safer and more nurturing environments and neighborhoods.
Mary Rucci, Aramark
John Lavery, The Lighthouse