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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Aramark to encourage employee incentives

Published: September 14, 2012
Section: News

The day only begins for most students when a cafeteria employee hands them the food they need to fully regain consciousness. These are employees of Aramark, Brandeis’ food service provider and a company that says it plans to make sure their employees get more recognition in the coming year. Aramark has also made changes for the coming school year to their ever-developing menu.
Aaron Bennos, director of Brandeis’ Dining Services said that Aramark is constantly changing their menu based on student surveys, feedback, current trends and regular meetings with the student dining committee and members of student government.
Recent improvements Aramark has made to the menus of facilities on campus include the introduction of nachos, two-taco combo, portobello mushrooms as a protein choice, and a la carte bean, taco and queso cheese at Usdan’s Tortilla Fresca station. Ollie’s also added tofu scrambles and veggie sausage for vegan and vegetarian options. There is also most notably the addition of the Gluten Free Corner to both Usdan and Sherman, as well as the coffee shop in Goldfarb Library that will soon have its grand opening.
Aramark Corporation is an American foodservice, facilities and clothing provider supplying businesses, educational institutions (like Brandeis), sports facilities, federal state prisons and healthcare institutions. Aramark was even listed in Fortune Magazine several times as one of the World’s most admired companies. Aramark was founded in 1936 but began under the name Davidson Brothers. In 1959, one of the founding brothers, Davre Davidson partnered with William Fishman to establish Automatic Retailers of America (ARA). The company took the name Aramark, which most of us now know it by, in 1994. In more recent years, Aramark has taken action to build an image of social responsibility.
In 2008, Aramark started its Aramark Building Community, a company-wide volunteer initiative that was created to help rebuild neighborhood community centers. On its website, Aramark says it works to provide community centers with hospitality, food, facilities and uniforms. They also said that their hope is to educate community center members about ways to live a healthier lifestyles through cooking classes taught by Aramark nutritionists.
Another act of social responsibility that started in 2008 was Aramark’s decision to halt the use of trays in their cafeterias (alongside other catering giant, Sodexo) in order to reduce food waste, energy consumption and water use.
The largest Aramark distributors are SYSCO and Sid Weiner. During this time of year, Aramark mostly gets produce from local farms while they outsource to a farm in Maine during the winter. Also, most of Brandeis’ baked goods are derived from its own campus bakery in Kutz Hall. Bakery items (including kosher goods) are made fresh daily.
Bennos explained that Aramark uses incentives to promote their employees’ well-being. They have monthly awards and each semester they hold a dinner for exemplary employees, as well as holiday parties. In the coming year, Aramark hopes to bring greater acknowledgement to employees who have earned awards for their excellent service.
New students were asked on the Class of 2016 Facebook group about what they think of their new food choices. Several people were greeted with an applause of likes when they announced in several different ways that the food caused digestive issues. There were more detailed criticisms from concerned students who felt that only limited healthy options were available, and felt that the considerable availability of less healthy treats made making healthy choices difficult.
“From my experience with Sherman, I would conclude that they need to make fruit more prevalent and diverse,” wrote Shimon Mazor ’16. “Other than that, I of course disapprove of the fast food that is given (i.e. hamburgers, pizzas and ice cream) … I would at least limit fast food to weekends and holidays, but most certainly not keep them as a daily treat.”
There were other new students who made much more positive comments about Sherman and Usdan. “There’s a wide array of food, and plenty of options for those of us who are kosher, gluten free or looking to be healthy,” said Dana Freitas ’16.
“We do encourage feedback and suggestions,” Bennos concluded. “There is the student dining committee that has been a great avenue to sit down with and discuss each location,” Bennos said.