Aramark, American Heart Association: Improving America’s Health

How our innovative partnership with the American Heart Association is changing eating behaviors in underserved communities
Aug 17, 2017 8:00 AM ET

On a recent summer afternoon at the New Pathways Project in North Philadelphia, a large group of would-be chefs gathered around Aramark’s Charles Schermer as he demonstrated how to create a colorful, nutritious salad.

Some of the participants had never tasted an avocado or used olive oil and lime juice to make a salad dressing. But they produced their best chopped salads as part of a friendly competition at the Feed Your Potential 365 Club, part of an innovative public health initiative between Aramark and the American Heart Association.

Nearly 70 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese, and 72 percent have a poor diet. To help address this significant challenge we took a bold step forward -- we joined forces with the American Heart Association with the goal of improving the health of Americans 20 percent by 2020. It’s a powerful partnership that combines our scale and reach, plus our nutrition and culinary expertise with the Heart Association’s research and vast volunteer network.

Healthy for Life® 20 By 20, a five-year initiative launched in 2015, includes healthy menu commitments impacting the more than 2 billion meals Aramark serves annually. The initiative also focuses on consumer and employee health awareness and education as well as community health engagement. We’ve also introduced a consumer education and awareness campaign – Feed Your Potential 365 (FYP 365) to inspire our customers, communities and our own employees to discover how healthy food can help them accomplish their best.

In underserved communities, Feed Your Potential (FYP) 365 clubs like the one in Philadelphia are building a culture of health by providing people with knowledge, skills and confidence in choosing and preparing healthy meals at home. The clubs are permanent hubs, based at community centers, for year-round education and engagement. Inaugural clubs were established in select cities around the country and give participants—most who regularly prepare meals for their families—an opportunity to join fun, interactive health and nutrition and cooking sessions with peers. 

The FYP 365 Clubs were created based on insights from the pilot health program Aramark and the American Heart Association tested last year that indicated that people learn more effectively in a peer-engaged environment focused on practical activities, lessons and tips versus a classroom setting. 

Participants say they’ve already benefitted from joining the clubs.

Andrea, of the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, is a chef for multiple generations of her family. She prepares meals for grandmother, sister, brother and her two children who are 5 and 3. She won a Pathways Project club prize as the best shopper following a field trip to a grocery store, and says she’s now on the lookout for lower-carb, lower-sodium foods. She’s also become a fan of brown rice, whole wheat pasta and olive oil. And instead of sugared juices, she now keeps fruited water in her fridge.

Lourdes Q., of Chicago, grew up in a family where it was considered rude to not finish everything on your plate, and where portion sizes were not considered.  Since she began participating in the FYP365 Club at Casa Central in Chicago, she has been making small changes in her family’s diet. And those small changes are showing—one of her daughters who is significantly overweight has lost 10 pounds since April.   

We’re pleased with our progress and we’re focused on continuing this innovative work and breakthrough collaboration to help people lead healthier lives. Stay tuned!