New rooftop urban garden, outdoor cooking area will encourage healthy eating and lifestyle habits for community residents
TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Once a week, a local food bank delivers groceries to WoodGreen Community Services' housing on Toronto's East End. But for families and individuals living there, other sources of healthy, inexpensive fresh food can be difficult to find.
To increase tenants' access to fresh food, thereby improving the health of residents, ARAMARK is establishing an ARAMARK Building Community (ABC) Opportunity Zone in partnership with WoodGreen Community Services (at the 55 Pape Street location) —an affordable housing provider with an array of child care, job readiness and social services benefiting some 37,000 people each year. This initiative will provide the resources to grow fresh produce on site and help improve the overall health of families by increasing their access to fresh, healthy foods at no cost to them.
"At ARAMARK, we care about the Toronto community's vitality and success. Our Toronto-area employees are always willing dedicate their time and skills to empowering and supporting their neighbors in their efforts to live healthier lives," said Brian Struthers, Regional Vice President, ARAMARK Higher Education. "We are proud of our collaboration with WoodGreen, and the impact we make together to enhance the community's access to health and wellness programs."
The health and wellness Opportunity Zone builds on the partnership between WoodGreen Community Services and ARAMARK that began four years ago. Through ARAMARK's volunteer and philanthropic program, ARAMARK Building Community, employee volunteers help people improve their health, secure jobs and help them move out of poverty in Toronto and in 52 cities around the world.
"The partnership with ARAMARK will help transform WoodGreen's Pape Street location into an even better home for the residents," said Ann Rosenfield, Executive Director of the WoodGreen Foundation. "ARAMARK has provided us with continuous support throughout the years and the establishment of this health and wellness hub underscores the company's commitment to serving our community."
ARAMARK employees will create a new community garden on the center's rooftop terrace overlooking the city of Toronto with large produce planters that residents can oversee and maintain as a long term, sustainable and affordable source of fruits and vegetables. Volunteers will also construct outdoor cooking and dining spaces to cultivate a sense of neighborhood among residents and provide the space for community gatherings and healthy cooking classes. ARAMARK culinary, nutrition and other experts will provide ongoing support, conducting nutrition education classes and wellness programs throughout the year.
Employees also collected dozens of garden supplies, such as gardening gloves and tools, to help sustain the maintenance of the new garden and encourage active participation by residents.
ARAMARK has been a proud supporter of WoodGreen Community Services since 2009 when the company held its first volunteer event at the center. This summer, WoodGreen was one of the first recipient charities of ARAMARK's Toronto Charity Golf Tournament. Funds raised from the golf tournament will help fund the installation of a new kitchen to provide more opportunities to supplement the center's weekly food pantry deliveries and distribution.
About WoodGreen Community Services
Celebrating 75 years of success in 2012, WoodGreen Community Services is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto. A founding United Way of Toronto member agency, WoodGreen has grown to span 32 locations and serves 37,000 people each year. WoodGreen helps people find safe, affordable housing, seniors live independently, internationally-trained professionals enter the job market, parents access childcare, children and youth access after-school programs, newcomers settle in to Canadian life, homeless and marginalized people get off the streets and youth find meaningful employment and training.
About ARAMARK Building Community
ARAMARK Building Community enriches lives by helping families improve their health, secure jobs and move out of poverty. In partnership with community centers around the world, employee volunteers lend their nutrition, culinary, job readiness and facilities management expertise to ensure people can succeed. ARAMARK provides a range of resources, and since 2008 has invested more than $8 million in volunteer expertise, cash and in-kind resources to strengthen the capacity of local community centers, involving 18,000 ARAMARK volunteers through over 500 volunteer activities. Nearly 3.5 million individuals and families served by community centers in nearly 52 cities have been aided by the program. Visit ARAMARK for more information. Please join us on Facebook.
ARAMARK delivers experiences that enrich and nourish people's lives through innovative food, facility, and uniform services. Our more than 250,000 employees around the world demonstrate our corporate responsibility values every day, and we are recognized among the Most Admired Companies by Fortune and World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute. Learn more at www.aramark.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Mary Rucci, ARAMARK
Jessica Malone, WoodGreen
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