Sponsor Spotlight: ARAMARK Education

November 05, 2013

Spotlight on ARAMARK Education.

We’re honored to welcome ARAMARK Education as the Cooking up Change National School Nutrition Partner as well as the Premier Sponsor for Cooking up Change Chicago. We are thrilled to have ARAMARK Education’s support and commitment to Cooking up Change.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) recently awarded ARAMARK Education the district’s food service contract. Together, CPS and ARAMARK Education have made a commitment to meeting high nutrition standards, expanding the district’s farm-to-school program and focusing resources and staff training on making healthy food more appealing to students.  Healthy Schools Campaign applauds this commitment to the health and wellness of students.

That ARAMARK Education team has been providing significant support to the Cooking up Change Healthy Cooking Contest. Team members have helped with creating a list of ingredients for the contest, analyzing recipes and supplying all the ingredients for the contest. In other words, we couldn’t have done it without them!

We caught up with Trevor Ferguson, Regional Vice President, for a quick chat about the organization’s recent work and collaborating with Cooking up Change. Thanks, Trevor!

For starters, tell us about the changes that have been made to school lunches in the past few years.

The primary shift has been a focus on providing more fresh items instead of processed foods. This includes an increase in fresh fruits and vegetables, more locally grown and farm raised items such as chicken as well as using more whole grains in our ingredients for menus.

And how have you seen students respond to these changes?

In general it’s been very positive. While it’s still very early for this year’s cycle, overall we’re seeing increases in consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Why did ARAMARK Education choose to get involved with Cooking up Change?

Cooking up Change is a wonderful opportunity for students to demonstrate their culinary skills and to learn about careers in culinary. It’s a great fit for ARAMARK Education as it allows us to educate the students regarding the full spectrum of preparing a meal, from menu preparation to food merchandising. The program is in alignment with our mission of helping students flourish.

What are you most excited to see at the Cooking up Change event?

I’m looking forward to seeing their creativity and menu ideas. It is very exciting for the winning team as their dish will be featured district-wide on the menus in January 2014. They will get to share their entree with over 400,000 students. This is just one example of student involvement in menu planning.

How do you give students a voice in the conversation?

We seek their opinions throughout the year to learn what’s working and what’s not and then we take that into consideration as adjustments are made based on their feedback. Student voices are an important part of our overall success. While we strive every day to provide healthy and nutritious meals, if the students are not eating the food, they may lose focus and attention, which will impact their ability to learn. It’s our goal to help students flourish with good nutrition and healthy school environments.

Learn more about Cooking up Change's sponsors!