LETTER: In defense of Aramark

The objections to Aramark outlined in Smith’s column are largely founded on misinformation, and Aramark prides itself on its commitment to ethics

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Aramark is a responsible and ethical company, and we view corporate responsibility as a foundational element of our business model. In fact, the company has been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, a leading international think tank dedicated to best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability. We are also proud to have been recognized as an employer of choice by the Human Rights Campaign along with Diversity, Inc., Black Enterprise, Careers & the disABLED and Latino magazines.

It is important to understand that there is a lot of misinformation and propaganda around Aramark and our service of food to the corrections industry as a result of a 2016 documentary and ongoing activism around the prison industrial complex. Some of it may be because there are companies who manage and operate private prisons, and there are other global food service companies who manage and operate private prisons. Aramark does neither.   

We do not manage or operate correctional facilities, or do any business with federal penitentiaries or private prisons. We provide meals to offenders in state and county correctional facilities in the United States. We help these facilities maintain safe, stable environments for millions of offenders, officers and staff every day.  

The correctional facility determines the nutritional specifications for the menus we create (calories, portions, religious meals). All menus are designed by registered dietitians to meet the nutritional requirements specified by the facility, as well as the guidelines set by the American Correctional Association. These guidelines are based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances and Dietary Reference Intakes.

Over the past 15 years, we have helped reduce recidivism and rehabilitate millions of offenders through our IN2WORK vocational training program, which earned the National Governors Award for Public Private Partnerships in 2013. In some cases, the program has helped reduce recidivism by as much as 30 percent.

Additionally, at the direction of the facility, non-violent offenders have the opportunity to work in the kitchen in exchange for a reduction in their sentence and/or as a way to earn money for their trust accounts. This labor model is specified by the facility and is another way to help rehabilitate offenders and reduce recidivism.  

After assuming responsibility for several of the contracts cited by Ms. Smith in her column, opponents of outsourcing and special interest groups mounted campaigns against these decisions and our company. These campaigns included many unfounded allegations about the quantity and quality of food for inmates, service levels and sanitation issues.

We felt that it was important to contribute to this conversation so that you can form an educated opinion. Aramark is proud of the long standing relationship that we have with the University and the local community. 

Karen Cutler, Aramark VP of Communications and Public Affairs 

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