Inspiring Community Health: Challenges and Solutions
How Hospitals can Support their Population

An increasingly larger percentage of the U.S. population is facing challenges that result in frequent admissions to local hospitals. Among the reasons why is a lack of access to nutritious food and information about living a healthier life.

These challenges have created a crisis within the nation's healthcare systems. More and more patients are facing higher readmission rates, which threatens the hospital's financial health.

There are many ways healthcare systems can help reverse the trends. They have the knowledge, the skilled staff and access to resources needed to make a real difference. Many healthcare systems have already launched programs and are achieving remarkable results.

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How Hospitals Can Help Reduce Readmission Rates Through Better Access to Food

Hospital readmissions affect one in six Medicare patients released following medical care and one in eight patients following surgery. It is estimated that these readmissions cost more than 17 billion US dollars. The leading causes of hospital readmission for people include the incapability to prepare their own meals after discharge, lack of transportation, living in a food “desert” and the inability to afford healthy options. They often eat food with low nutritional value, such as fast food, because it’s easy and cheap or just don’t eat at all. If they had better nutrition post-treatment, they could continue their healing journey, regain their strength, recover better and avoid return trips to the hospital.

Post-discharge meals ensure patients continue to receive proper nutrition once they leave the hospital. This is especially key for patients suffering from a chronic condition, which puts them at risk for malnutrition. Patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease may require a diet low in sugar, fat, sodium or cholesterol. Post-discharge meals are equally important to individuals who simply cannot prepare meals for themselves or whose caretakers don’t know how to fulfill their nutritional needs, as well as those who are food insecure.

  • Participants who received access to food after being released from the hospital experienced lower emergency department (ED) visits, inpatient admissions and uses of emergency transportation. — Health Affairs
  • Malnourished patients are over two times more likely than well-nourished patients to be readmitted to the hospital. — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • In a pilot study, post-discharge meals were shown to reduce hospital readmissions by 39%. — Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Delivering Healthy Meals to People in Need

To help reduce readmissions that strain healthcare systems’ budgets, hospitals can support programs that focus on post-discharge nutrition. For example, innovative food delivery services are designed specifically to get high-quality, nutritious food to people while they are recovering from medical care. Options include, meals that are designed by dietitians and professional chefs, tailored to specific health conditions or a produce box that is delivered every week with meal recipe cards included.

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How Hospitals Can Help Promote
Healthy Communities

Learning how to access, choose and prepare healthy food is critical for developing healthy habits. Many moms, dads and caregivers face challenges that prevent them from building basic food and nutrition literacy. They may not have essential cooking skills or the confidence to prepare healthy home-cooked meals for themselves or their families. Healthcare organizations can partner with community organizations to help fill this gap.

Aramark and the American Heart Association Collaborate on Healthy For Life®

Since 2015, Aramark and the American Heart Association have collaborated on an innovative health impact model called Healthy For Life®. They work together to leverage their combined reach and resources, as part of a nationwide initiative designed to inspire millions of people to make healthier choices part of their everyday lives.

Our Commitment

The Healthy for Life initiative, including community-level nutrition education, menu innovation, consumer engagement, and employee health and wellness education, has made a significant impact on:

  • A 20% decrease in average calories, saturated fat and sodium
  • A nearly 20% increase in fruits, vegetables and whole grains across menu items served in workplaces, hospital cafes and university dining halls
  • 34% of main dishes on these menus are now vegetarian or vegan

Healthy eating information shared with millions reached through health awareness activities, education and marketing programs.


Nutrition education resources used by over 800 community-based organizations.

Aramark Employees:

A robust suite of award-winning employee health programs. More than two-thirds of Aramark employees surveyed believe that "Aramark encourages me to make healthy choices and to lead a healthier life."

Nationwide Impact

Communities around the country are turning to Healthy for Life to engage and educate.

  • 90 cities from coast to coast offer the program
  • Over 800+ community organizations have accessed the curriculum
  • Millions of consumers are reached each year through digital and social media channels
  • 75% of consumers at participating locations were aware healthier options were being promoted
  • 60% of consumers who were aware of the program chose the healthier selections being featured
  • Participants reported increases in their daily fruit and vegetable and whole grains intake
  • Participants who joined five or more sessions reported the highest gains in healthy food consumption

Aramark Recognized by the American Heart Association

In June 2021, Aramark received the American Heart Association’s Award of Meritorious Achievement. Aramark earned this distinction for its dedication to bettering the nutrition and lifestyle habits of consumers, communities and its employees through the Healthy for Life initiative.

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How Hospitals Can Help
Support Communities

At Aramark, we recognize that the strength of our communities has a direct impact on our business and partners, and we’re deeply invested in the neighborhoods where we operate. To date, our programs have had a positive impact on more than 5 million children and families in communities around the world.

Aramark Building Community Program

Aramark Building Community is our global volunteer program that inspires individuals, families and communities to lead healthier lifestyles, succeed in the workforce and build vibrant communities. The goals of the program include:

  • Empower Workforce Success: Skill development and training to achieve economic independence

  • Inspire Healthy Lives: Increase access to healthy food and nutrition education

  • Build Vibrant Communities: Empower strong communities by building better environments

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How Hospitals Can Help Build Stronger
Community Partnerships

Community partnerships are essential to addressing health needs at scale and gaining access to underserved populations. Success depends on shared goals, resource commitments and selecting partners with the best cultural and strategic fit.

When working toward creating community-based programs, local, small and diverse suppliers make excellent partners because they often have more insight into local market trends. As a result, they can more authentically supply products and services that are culturally relevant. What’s more, partnering with local, small and diverse suppliers delivers another benefit: driving economic impact and supporting our diversity and inclusion goals.

From creating thousands of jobs to generating billions of dollars, our diverse network of small, local, minority-owned businesses is driving significant economic growth, lifting up their communities, and supporting our mission to enrich and nourish lives.

  • 19% diverse spend growth over two-year period
  • $642 Million in annual spend with small business and diverse suppliers in North America for FY 2020, including approximately $311 million with minority/women-owned business enterprises.
  • 546 new diverse suppliers registered in our supplier diversity portal in 2019 
  • 6,000+ suppliers and subcontractors identified as small businesses or diverse-owned 
  • 14,085 jobs supported through purchases with these businesses during FY19 for an economic impact of $1.9 billion.

Why Partner with Aramark for Community Health Programs

Rooted in service and united by our purpose, Aramark strives to contribute to the greater good. The Aramark sustainability plan, Be Well. Do Well., outlines our goal to make a positive impact on people and the planet by working to reduce inequity, support and grow our communities, and protect our planet.

Educating Communities

We focus on engaging and updating consumers in the community with Healthy for Life nutritional education resources. These resources equip individuals with the knowledge, skills and confidence to purchase and prepare healthy food through hands-on experience and interactive evidence based education. The educational experiences bridge the gap between knowing one needs to be healthier and having the confidence to make those decisions. The Healthy for Life online hub offers science-based experiences, orientation materials, recipes and resources that is free to program leaders around the country. 

Working to Overcome Food Insecurity

Aramark is committed to positive impact by increasing access to food, reducing inequity and protecting the environment across the communities we serve. For example, we work with Food Donation Connection to provide a way to donate unused, unserved food from any of our business locations to qualified nonprofit organizations.

In support of our commitment to create a positive impact on people and the planet, we are addressing food insecurity from several angles, including:

  • Using effective operational and food management practices
  • Minimizing surplus food waste
  • Building strategic partnerships
  • Leading food recovery efforts
  • Fostering collaborative dialogue

Helping to Keep Our Planet Healthy

We leverage our proprietary food management process to minimize waste before it’s generated by helping us reduce, reuse and recycle from the initial purchase to production to final waste disposal. We also focus on efforts that reduce packaging, source responsibly and operate efficiently. 

Partnering with Leaders in Community Building

We donate as much as $15 million annually through direct, in-kind and matching contributions to organizations and causes that create measurable social and environmental impact to support sustainable communities for the future.

Volunteering Our Expertise

In 2008, Aramark launched our global volunteer program, Aramark Building Community, to engage employees and support community efforts to reduce inequity by helping families learn about and access healthy food, as well as opportunities for education and employment.

Start Inspiring
Community Health

Your hospital can inspire community health by utilizing the programs Aramark already has in place; we will also work with you to customize your approach to inspiring the collective community. After all, you know your community best. Get started today.