LOWELL, Mass., June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- It's been more than two years since children at CTI's James Houlares Early Learning Center have been able to enjoy their playground, which includes an old wooden structure that is no longer safe. Yet more than a third of the children enrolled in CTI's early learning programs are overweight, and in need of access to safe recreational areas where they can increase their physical activity.
Today more than 100 volunteers from ARAMARK, the global professional services company, will celebrate their partnership with Community Teamwork, Inc. and establish an ARAMARK Building Community (ABC) Opportunity Zone at the Early Learning Center, which will be a hub of ongoing nutrition and wellness education and programs for the community. In addition, they will announce an educational campaign to address obesity and health challenges in Lowell, where more than 18 percent of the population is living below the poverty level and does not have access to adequate nutrition information and fresh, healthy food.
"Obesity and chronic disease are some of the major barriers to the health and prosperity of our community," said Karen Frederick, CTI Executive Director. "Our partnership with ARAMARK, and the nutrition expertise they will provide to our families is key to overcoming these barriers."
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. Through ABC, employees use their culinary, hospitality, food and nutrition, facilities management and human resources talents to create strong and vital communities.
The ABC Opportunity Zone will include a completely refurbished outdoor recreation space for children. The underutilized space currently includes old playground equipment that will be removed and a new, safe play area will be installed. In addition, volunteers will expand the vegetable garden to provide more fresh vegetables for the community.
"ARAMARK employees are here today to demonstrate how deeply we care about the vitality of this community," said Frank Mendicino, ARAMARK President and Chief Strategy Officer. "Through ARAMARK Building Community, today and year-round, we are making a meaningful difference, whether it's a chef teaching a healthy cooking class, a human resources professional delivering a workshop on how to get a job, or a facilities expert creating a vibrant environment. We help people succeed, and build strong communities."
Volunteers will also install a permanent ABC Eat Smart Zone which will provide nutritious menus and nutrition education materials, and will also be for the center of ongoing cooking and nutrition education and awareness workshops. Throughout the year, ARAMARK culinary experts will participate in CTI's Cooking Matters program on the local cable television station, which teaches families how to eat healthy meals on a budget.
ARAMARK is the food service partner for the Lowell public schools, where the majority of children served by CTI are students. ARAMARK's relationship with CTI started a year ago when employees participated in a CTI fundraiser, and since then, volunteers have worked with CTI to identify ways to help address health and wellness issues in the community. Volunteers recently led a series of nutritional presentations for families living in motel rooms who were struggling to prepare nutritious meals with limited kitchen facilities, often only a microwave oven.
About Community Teamwork, Inc.
Community Teamwork, Inc.'s mission is to assist low-income people in becoming self sufficient, to assist them with decisions that impact their lives, and to alleviate the effects of poverty. CTI is an advocate and catalyst for systemic change on issues that affect low-income families, such as education, workforce training, housing, economic development and civic engagement. CTI provides a range of services, including employment and job training, shelter for the homeless, child care, after-school programs, and other educational programs, at 12 locations that serve 42 communities in Middlesex and Essex counties.
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