DALLAS, Nov. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The first-year report released by Aramark and the American Heart Association (AHA) on their goal to improve the health of Americans by 2020 shows significant progress by Aramark achieving an 8 percent reduction in calories, sodium and saturated fats, and increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains across the menus it serves in colleges and universities, hospital cafes and workplace locations. Over 30 percent of main dishes served on these menus are now vegetarian or vegan, and more than 10 percent have whole grains as a leading ingredient. In addition, results of a pilot effort to change behaviors around food and nutrition in underserved communities found participants in the program significantly increased fruit and vegetable consumption by almost a full cup per day. These gains represent major progress when nearly 70 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese, and 72 percent have a poor diet.
"The American Heart Association is grateful for Aramark's continued commitment to improving the health of all Americans and we're delighted with the progress we have collectively made in the past year," said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. "This proves that our work is truly advancing the health of Americans and we look forward to continuing this great work in the coming years."
Healthy for Life® 20 By 20, a five-year initiative launched in 2015, aims to improve the health of consumers across the country by 20 percent by the year 2020. It includes healthy menu commitments impacting the more than 2 billion meals Aramark serves annually, and also focuses on community health engagement as well as consumer and employee health awareness and education.
"Just over one year ago, we embarked on a landmark initiative with the American Heart Association to create a culture of health for all Americans, with a keen focus on helping families in underserved communities," said Eric J. Foss, Aramark's Chairman, President & CEO. "We are extremely pleased with the progress our teams have made together, and are focused on continuing this innovative work and breakthrough collaboration in support of our shared goals to help people lead healthier lives."
AHA and Aramark have achieved the following milestones in the first year of their strategic relationship:
2020 GOAL: Achieve a 20 percent reduction in calories, saturated fats, and sodium as well as a 20 percent increase in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in Aramark's menus, with an impact of 10 billion meals served by the year 2020. Annual target: 3 – 5 percent reduction
YEAR ONE PROGRESS: Aramark has reduced calories, saturated fats, and sodium by an average of 8 percent across menus that are served in colleges and universities, hospital cafes and workplaces, exceeding the annual target of 3 -5 percent established as the benchmark necessary to reach the 20 percent by 2020.
A focus on increasing fruits, vegetables and whole grains on menus is also progressing. Over 30 percent of main dishes served on these menus are now vegetarian or vegan and more than 10 percent have whole grains as a leading ingredient. In addition, over 50 percent of the entrees or sandwich items are 500 calories or less. Progress has been driven by a variety of healthy menu impact strategies, including:
- Menu Mix Redesign: Changing the assortment of recipes on the menu and featuring selections from Aramark's extensive portfolio of 'Eat Well' recipes that have at least a full serving of leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains or other good-for-you ingredients and that are also lower in saturated fat, calories and sodium.
- New Recipe Development: Developing new recipes and improving existing recipes in ways that combine fresh, wholesome, high quality ingredients to create lighter classics, better for you comfort food, and contemporary international cuisine.
- Ingredient Sourcing: Finding ways to improve existing ingredients and products while discovering new high quality products for a healthier menu.
Community Health Engagement & Education:
2020 GOAL: Create health education and awareness programs in underserved communities across the U.S. that change behaviors and attitudes towards food and nutrition.
YEAR ONE PROGRESS: AHA and Aramark co-developed and tested a community health engagement model, which featured an extensive curriculum based on the AHA's proven science and programs with the goal to produce positive behavior changes in participants, primarily single moms and head of households responsible for providing meals for their families. The intervention piloted with five community centers in Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia found that:
- 69 percent of participants increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by at least half a serving a day.
- 48 percent of participants increased their whole grain consumption by at least one serving.
- On average, participants increased fruit and vegetable consumption by two servings, which is about one cup per day.
While the AHA and Aramark acknowledge the strong progress made during the inaugural year of the Healthy for Life® 20 By 20 initiative, both organizations remain focused on continuing to address the bold 2020 health impact goals.
In year two, Aramark and the AHA will expand and scale the successful community health engagement program to enable continued behavior change in underserved communities through interactive nutrition and wellness programs that foster long-term health impacts. Additional community centers will be invited to join the initiative and educational programming content will be made more widely available to other social service agencies in support of improved population health.
In addition, Aramark will continue its work to engage consumers and Aramark associates through ongoing menu innovation and health education.
See highlights from the initiative's first year here.
For more information on Healthy for Life® 20 By 20, and to access goals and growth-to-date for the initiative, please visit: www.aramark.com/healthyforlife.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke — the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit www.heart.org or any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) delivers experiences that enrich and nourish people's lives through innovative services in food, facilities management, and uniforms. United by a passion to serve, our 270,000 employees make a meaningful difference each day for millions of people in 21 countries around the world. Aramark is recognized as one of the World's Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE, rated number one among Diversified Outsourcing Companies, as well as among the World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Learn more at www.aramark.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
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SOURCE Aramark; American Heart Association