Enriching Local Communities: Aramark Shares the Wealth of its Market Strength with Campus Partners

WRITTEN BY: Aramark Higher Education Team

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on local communities, people are in need of more support than ever before. In response, universities are increasing their efforts to actively support the communities in which they are embedded. Many are looking to partner with their major service suppliers. This collaboration creates a unique opportunity to move away from a transactional supplier strategy and deepen engagement and results. Partners like Aramark can leverage their market strength and relationships to help universities amplify their impact by hiring local staff, fighting food insecurity, working with diverse and local suppliers, and beyond.

With dozens of strong partnerships with universities and other organizations across the country, Aramark is committed to building local communities, reducing inequity and increasing access to opportunities.

When COVID-19 hit Virginia, the Local Food Hub, a nonprofit organization dedicated to local sourcing, knew it could help vulnerable community members by ramping up produce deliveries. They realized they couldn’t do it alone, so they reached out to the University of Virginia and their campus food supplier, Aramark.

UVA and Aramark have been long-time partners and joint advocates for increasing community access to local food. The three entities worked together to source fresh, local food, pack and store it, and distribute to community members, taking extra precaution and safety measures during COVID.


The company is able to bring the strength of its expertise, proven programs and established relationships to the table — lending its higher education partners the power of its own leverage. Investing in local suppliers is a business imperative that delivers success and long-term sustainability for our clients, consumers and the communities in which we serve.

Local, small and diverse suppliers have more insight into local market trends and can more authentically supply products and services that are culturally relevant for our consumers. We work with our clients to develop a plan that makes the best use of regional and local resources, including diverse suppliers. Investing in these relationships builds the local economy by driving demand for locally produced and sourced products and strengthening small businesses.

For example, one partner in Philadelphia was able to leverage local suppliers to provide food services and products for on-campus dining. Because of the partnership, the university spent 48% of the institution’s total spend with Philadelphia suppliers. This effort helped the university to align with the expectations of Gen Z, of which 41% say they would be more likely to buy an item that is locally sourced, according to Datassentials’ Generations of Change Gen Z Mindset 2019 report.


Health disparities, food insecurity and lack of employment skills are critical issues for people around the world. To address these challenges, Aramark launched a global volunteer program in 2008 called Aramark Building Community. The program’s goals are to engage the talents and passions of its chefs, dietitians and other employees to help families learn about and get access to healthy food, improve local community centers and provide important job skills that can help them on a path to a better future.

As a result of the volunteer program, Aramark was able to foster a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the community. In 2019, over 10,000 volunteers completed more than 400 projects, positively impacting more than 400,000 people, and provided critical resources and support to 225 nonprofit organizations. Many of the volunteers came from our university partner campuses and students across the country contributed to the effort.


Open Fields was developed, along with our partner, FarmLogix, to measure and execute against our key sustainable sourcing priorities. The goal is to transparently measure and report operations performance, from identifying ingredients grown, raised or produced by businesses within our communities to building on our responsible sourcing commitments surrounding animal welfare and sustainable seafood.

Open Fields Reporting allows universities to generate visual reports of local and sustainable purchases by desired preferences including customized definitions of local and a variety of sustainable attributes. As a result, many campuses are able to source from local suppliers. Boston University, for example, sources locally from 20 local suppliers ranging from produce to meat to seafood.


Aramark's size and capabilities offer partners many benefits, including a deeper engagement with local communities. When large organizations work together to accomplish a shared goal they are better able to provide deep support for and impact in their local communities and exceed their own objectives.

Through collaboration with Aramark, your institution can gain access to experience in corporate social responsibility, sustainable supply chain management, community volunteerism and strategic partnership development. Together, a partnership can help you achieve transformational milestones and make your community a better place.

To learn more about how Aramark empowers people and clients, click here.

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