BALTIMORE, Aug. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In East Baltimore, many families lack the resources to access enough nutritious food to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With few grocery stores in the area, residents rely on high-fat, high-calorie food from corner stores and takeout restaurants, increasing the rate of obesity and other nutrition-related conditions in the city to rates that are above state and national averages.
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 East Baltimore Development, Inc. (EBDI) and East Baltimore Community School (EBCS). EBCS is an affiliate of (EBDI) whose mission is to transform 88 acres in East Baltimore into a thriving community for families, businesses and public institutions. In partnership with EBDI, ARAMARK will also provide a series of nutrition education workshops for children and families, providing the tools to encourage and support balanced nutrition and physical activity.
"Both EBDI and the East Baltimore Community School are located in a city where more than 20 percent of the people have said they are concerned about not having enough healthy food," said Christopher Shea, President and CEO, EBDI. "As a result, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases are major issues in our community. Our partnership with ARAMARK helps create solutions by developing a place our children can easily access to learn simple ways they can live healthier lifestyles. ARAMARK helps our community thrive."
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 families and vibrant communities.
"Throughout our three-year partnership, we've connected many of our ARAMARK employees with EBDI to lend their skills and host various career readiness programs, including job coaching and resume writing workshops. Today, we are expanding our commitment to this neighborhood to address the health problems that arise when people have little or no access to nutritious food," said Jay Leyden, Executive Vice President, ARAMARK Business, Sports & Entertainment. "Our goal is to address the issues that are critical to this community and expand our relationship with EBDI well beyond the walls of the community center for the years to come."
The ABC Opportunity Zone will include a refurbished outdoor play area for children and an expanded community garden where local residents can grow healthy and nutritious food. The outdoor play space will include freshly painted games like hopscotch and foursquare for children to engage in that will promote physical activity and exercise. In addition, ARAMARK volunteers will create murals that illustrate a variety of healthy eating tips for the children to read and mimic at home. Volunteers will also be donating sporting equipment for the children to use in their new activity space.
Throughout the year, ARAMARK culinary and nutrition experts will host ongoing educational workshops on nutrition and healthy cooking for local children and families leveraging ARAMARK's "Growing up Healthy" nutrition education curriculum and the Just4U Nutrition Education Program. More than 30 volunteers will provide monthly seminars and demonstrations on topics such as, Healthy Choices Healthy Kids, Little Changes for Better Health and Sports Nutrition.
Over the years, ARAMARK experts have identified various ways to address employment issues within the community; taught families to avoid obesity and chronic disease and health and wellness education programs; and worked to revitalize the community center into a thriving program for family and children within the neighborhood.
About East Baltimore Development, Inc.
East Baltimore Development Inc. is a nonprofit organization that is leading the transformation of an area north of the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. The East Baltimore Development initiative is the largest redevelopment project ever undertaken in Baltimore to reverse historic trends and transform the disinvested neighborhood into a thriving mixed-income community for families, businesses and public institutions. It serves more than 1,300 families a year.
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