Aramark revamping menu to serve healthier meals — with American Heart Association’s help

     Aramark employees grill hotdogs, hamburgers and chicken. (Elise Amendola/AP Photo)

    Aramark employees grill hotdogs, hamburgers and chicken. (Elise Amendola/AP Photo)

    Chances are you’ve eaten a fair amount of Aramark’s food. The Philadelphia-based company has contracts to provide meals and snacks to schools, hospitals, universities, prisons and sporting events across the country, serving more than 2 billion annually.

    Now, with the help of the American Heart Association, it’s promising to make all those dishes healthier.

    Aramark said it intends to reduce calorie, saturated fat and sodium levels in its offerings by 20 percent, while increasing the number of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Experts from the American Heart Association are helping to guide the ingredient changes.

    “We want to help build a culture of health, and we want to empower Americans to make better dietary choices, and we recognize that we play a big role in serving people all across America each and every day,” says Marc Bruno, chief operating officer for Aramark.

    The company said it’s already started phasing in its healthier menu options.

    Some obesity researchers are applauding the announcement.

    “There are some huge players who have a lot of influence over the meals of millions of Americans, where if they can make a commitment to make changes, it really can have quite a widespread influence,” said Marlene Schwartz, who directs the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut.

    The American Heart Association, based in Dallas, said the partnership is part of the organization’s broader commitment to improving public health.

    “Consumers are demanding and wanting healthy choices, so they can make their own decisions on what to eat, where to eat and how to eat,” said Al Royse, chair of the American Heart Association’s board of directors.

    The Aramark Charitable Fund is supporting the initiative with a multimillion-dollar grant.

    Disclosure: Aramark supports WHYY.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.