Making Kitchen "Know-How" Accessible for Low-Income Philly Residents

May 2, 2016


Aramark teams up with American Heart Association to ensure healthy eating for millions of Americans.

For some, it’s easy to take for granted healthy cooking know-how, whether it was ingrained in us as young kids or absorbed through the recent explosion of the wellness blogger.

However, many residents of low-income urban areas often lack that foundational knowledge. Worse still, they may reside in what experts call “food deserts” – parts of the country void of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods. It’s largely due to a lack of grocery stores and farmers’ markets, according to the American Nutrition Association.

If fruits and vegetables aren’t already a part of your diet, it can be difficult to suddenly chart a new path, full of perfectly steamed broccoli and kale salads for lunch. Aramark, in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA), wants to change that.

Let’s take a quick look at Northeast Philadelphia, where Aramark and AHA are sponsoring a twelve-week class on food and nutrition at Congreso de Latino Unidos. During the weekly session at the local community center, Aramark chefs lead participants through kitchen basics, healthy food preparation, and recipe development.

Samantha Quinones, a young single mother, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that, thanks to the class, she’s making real changes in her behavior and isn’t afraid to seek out the fresh stuff at the grocery store. "I'm more aware of what I buy at the grocery store," Quinones said.

The joint effort is part of a larger plan by the two organizations to improve the diet and health of millions of Americans by 20% by 2020. Healthy for Life 20 By 20 is a five year initiative with several key commitment areas.

  1. Menu Impact: Make menu changes that will reduce calories, saturated fat and sodium levels 20%, while increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains 20%. These changes will impact more than 2 billion meals that Aramark serves annually at thousands of schools and universities, businesses, hospitals, entertainment venues, and more.
  2. Community Education and Awareness: Expand health education programs with nutrition classes, such as the one in Philadelphia, to new cities around the country.
  3. Consumer Education: Empower consumers to make healthier choices with fun and informative activities like cooking demonstrations, wellness workshops, and more.
  4. Thought Leadership: Establish a health impact report to track the progress of the joint initiative and share best practices with other organizations.

We’re all about how to the private sector helps support healthy communities at CCC, and we can’t wait to follow along as Aramark and AHA continue to build awareness around these

Want to learn more about Aramark’s and AHA’s work? See examples of other pilot programs here