Sustainability

Be Well. Do Well., our sustainability plan, connects to our mission todo great things for our people, our partners, our communities, and our planet. The plan outlines two big goals – enabling equity and wellbeing for millions of people and reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and addresses the key environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments of the organization. Be Well. Do Well. helps Aramark focus and strengthen existing practices in order to drive change and deliver real, long-term value for our business and its stakeholders.

We have a long history of empowering employees, enabling healthy consumers, supporting communities and sourcing ethically and inclusively. We are equally committed to protecting our planet through responsible sourcing practices, operational efficiency and waste minimization. Aramark leaders and their teams are committed to implementing our sustainability plan, accelerating our initiatives, identifying significant emerging issues and risks, and driving measurable progress against our people and planet priorities.

Gator Dining/Aramark has made significant strides in the past two years in achieving the following strategic goals:

Gator Dining/Aramark is proud to have increased our local partnerships over the last two years since receiving the NACUFS Silver Award in Procurement Practices in 2020. Supply chain disruptions and product shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of having relationships with local businesses that are mutually rewarding and rooted in a shared passion for providing fresh, local food to UF students. Now more than ever, we are committed to purchasing from growers and producers within the state of Florida, and the partnerships outlined below have played a key role in expanding the breadth of our Fresh from Florida purchasing program.

Traders Hill Farm

Traders Hill Farm (THF) is a zero-waste aquaponics farm in Hilliard, Florida, 85 miles from the University of Florida campus. They grow a variety of lettuces, including bok choy, red lettuce, romaine, butterhead, and more. Traders Hill provides virtually all the lettuce we purchase for catering and residential dining. This benefits us greatly as we have access to a consistent and reliable supply of fresh, sustainably grown leafy greens year round.

Traders Hill is a unique Aramark partner in that they also function as a regional food hub and distributor, called Traders Hill Market. This greatly increases the efficiency and ease in which we are able to procure from small to medium sized farms in North Florida, which is top priority for our client. Our Aramark chefs receive a weekly “hot sheet” of what is available and place orders directly to Traders Hills’ Forager and Sales Navigator. This individual works directly with us to understand our needs for the following semester/growing season and communicates projected demands to their farm partners. They are always seeking new farms to work with, which is where our next partner steps in as a tremendous aid in connecting them with farmers throughout the state.

UF IFAS

UF is a land-grant university with deep roots in agriculture. UF IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Science) plays a major role in the state’s agriculture industry, from breeding and researching new varieties of crops to providing farmers with the latest research-backed knowledge. Their work with Traders Hill involves specific research and education and, more recently, working with their Forager to connect them with farms throughout the state. Increasing the partnership pool of THF benefits us by providing a wider range of options and a longer window of availability throughout the growing seasons. This partnership was facilitated by the Aramark Sustainability team on campus.

PAOW

PAOW (People And Our World) is a plant-based protein producer with a wide range of products, all made from US-grown soybeans and produced in Ormond Beach, FL 105 miles from UF campus. PAOW! was brought to campus by an Aramark Executive Chef.

As the food provider for the fourth largest public university in the U.S., it is natural that the partnerships formed with local businesses and growers will bring about a wide range of impacts encompassing social, economic, and environmental benefits not only to us, but to our partners, customers, and client as well.

People:

  • Access to more nutritious, fresh produce every day (health)
  • Ease for our chefs to order local
  • Students learn more about what is in season/heritage crops
  • Student experience (events)
  • Collaboration between UF IFAS and THF – building relationships = building strong community
  • Exploring the culinary aspects of different varieties of the same crop- a unique and fruitful experience for our chefs that brought new inspiration
  • Strengthened the connection between our dining program and the university by supporting the research and development of crop varieties

Planet:

  • Local produce & small-scale distribution channels = less transportation and emissions associated with transport
  • Support a zero-waste aquaponics farm
  • Increased purchasing of plant based protein = less red meat purchasing

Profit (Local):

  • Benefits farmers to know they have a guaranteed market for crops
  • THF allows us to support very small farms and producers in the area
    • Siembra Farm
    • Family Garden
    • Play of Sunlight Mushrooms

In addition to the local purchasing commitment we made prior to 2020, which include purchasing all sausage from Nettles Sausage (36 mi from campus) and all beef from Florida Cattle Ranchers, we have implemented new elements to our residential dining program that ensure we are consistently purchasing from Traders Hill and PAOW.

For the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters, Aramark incorporated PAOW! products into the residential menu with localized menu items that have re-conceptualized our vegan station at Fresh Food Company to be centered around PAOW chick’n to ensure we are consistently ordering their product.

Branded both salad stations with Traders Hill to cement our commitment to purchasing first from their market to supply the salad station. In the Fall of 2021, we debuted our Traders Hill branded salad bar at both residential dining halls, so students know that they’re building salads with fresh, Florida-grown grown produce every day.

Aramark hosted monthly farmers markets showcasing these partnerships and tying in education around local growing seasons, IFAS research and breeding, nutrition, and unique/heritage crops.

At the end of each semester, we meet with our Aramark chefs and THF to discuss the availability of FL-grown crops for the following semester. We built our menus with consideration for what will be available locally and in season for the following semester.