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Get Real, Aramark!

A campaign for a more just, sustainable, respectful university food system.

2013 Southeast Aramark Road Trip
Who: RFC organizers and student leaders
What: 2 weeks of campus visits, student empowerment, and national demand for transparency
When: March 27 - April 15
Where: 8 (possibly more!) college campuses throughout the deep South.  
Read about the Road Trip

Not in the Southeast? No problem.
Help us show Aramark how widespread this movement is:

+ Send a postcard to new Aramark CEO Eric J. Foss             Download it here (PDF)
PRINTING INSTRUCTIONS: this is a 2-sided PDF of 4 total postcards. Print the PDF on cardstock, double-sided, with “short-edge binding” so that it is not upside-down. 

Add your own positive message in the space provided, add a stamp, and you’re set. Take a photo of your postcard before mailing it - upload it here

+ Speak out on social media

Students: Call on your dining services and university to support real food!

Hey @CDSatUNC! Support student leaders & ask @ARAMARK to do the same! #getrealaramark 

Alumni: Your voices are just as important! Call on your alma mater to support their students.

I’m a @DrewUniversity ‘10 grad and I support @realfoodnow. Get real, @ARAMARK! #getrealaramark 

Allies & organizations: Help us spread this story!

Students hit the road for #realfood - @ARAMARK, are you listening? #getrealaramark

Students call on @ARAMARK to get real, support students #getrealaramark


+ Send in photo petitions                                 >> Upload them here << 
Take a moment during a club meeting or in between classes to snap a quick photo petition telling Aramark to get real. We are all a part of a national movement - so let's show Aramark just how many of us there are. If you're on a campus, be sure to include your school's name in your photo!

Donate to the campaign
Help out with road trip expenses - make a donation of $20 (or whatever amount you can). We have a fundraising goal of $2000 to help cover the costs of travel, food, and materials.

+ Follow the roadtrip on Tumblr


Click here for background on this campaign. 

NEW! 3/27/2013 - It’s been a year since this campaign launched and we are excited to celebrate an important step along on the road towards a more transparent and just food system.

Aramark’s corporate sustainability office has released an official guide to support their cafeteria managers in using the Real Food Calculator.  After months of negotiation, a national day of action and campaigns on 20+ Aramark-contracted campuses, it’s clear that students and their allies’ voices are being heard--our power is growing. This new resource is an important tool for the growing number of student groups and university administrators demanding more transparency in their campus food chain.  

This is an important first step – but Aramark must take another.  

Already Bon Appétit and Sodexo, two of Aramark’s largest competitors, have signed national-level transparency agreements with Real Food Challenge (more on this exciting development soon!)—solidifying their commitment to openness and high standards for real food, when it come to their 550+ college and university accounts.  Aramark has an opportunity to join this quickly-growing consensus.  By signing an agreement with Real Food Challenge, they would put in place much-needed safeguards regarding access to information and further signal the company’s willingness to be a real food leader.

This is why Real Food Challenge leaders are hitting the road to bring the real food message to Aramark campuses across the South!

From southern Florida to upland Louisiana, student activists will work together to advance the campaign for real food and real transparency.  They will be pushing Aramark to make good use of its new resources -- and pushing Aramark’s new CEO, Eric J. Foss, to make a serious company-wide commitment to transparency and real food.  


Click here for background on this campaign. 


11/15/2012 - This school year has been off to a great start. At John's Hopkins, there was an incredible 100 mile meal for Food Day; at Southeastern Louisiana University there was a farmer's market, bringing local farmers and students together; at Berry College, the dining hall has started sourcing from the student garden; and Drew University has begun to implement the Real Food Campus Commitment signed by their president last year.  
That being said, at every school where Aramark is the Food Service provider, there have been continuous setbacks.  Students at over a dozen schools have approached their dining managers asking to do the Real Food Calculator and have been told 'no.' Trying to get real food at Aramark schools is a challenge, and that's why folks from around the country have suggested that we get on a conference call to compare notes and strategies.  
On Monday, November 19, we will be holding a national conference call - open to ALL students, on Aramark campuses or not - to give everyone a chance to share their stories and collaborate on our next steps. The call will be at 7pm EST/6pmCST/5pm MST/4pm PST.
You must RSVP to receive the call-in information!
Click here for background on this campaign.

5/17/2012 -- Over one month ago we asked you to join in solidarity in telling Aramark to put respect on the menu. With your overwhelming response of 600+ emails and dozens of calls, it is clear that we have let our voices be heard. Yet Aramark continues to turn away students who want to build a more just and sustainable food system at their schools. It is time for us to speak up together once more. Join us this weekend in taking action to let Aramark know that the pressure is still on.

Click here for background on the Get Real, Aramark! campaign.

Taking place this weekend is Cooking for Solutions, a major fundraising event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a leading institution that researches and offers guidelines around sustainable seafood (guidelines included in the Real Food Calculator). Cooking for Solutions is a high profile event where celebrity chefs with a passion for sustainable food will host a series of events meant to raise awareness and donations for sustainable seafood. An annual event, Cooking for Solutions has garnered a lot of media attention and sponsorship, including support from its only Platinum Plus sponsor for this year's event, Aramark. Aramark is also the food service provider for the aquarium.

Students from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and allies will be holding up signs in front of the headlining gala event on Friday to let people know that they should hold Aramark accountable to their apparent efforts to support sustainability.


5/18/2012 -- UPDATE! The action was a success!



Students held up signs, distributed leaflets, and spread word of Aramark's greenwashing tendencies to several event attendees. 




Protesters spread the word via leaflet (left), while students across the country did so over social media (right).

4/11/2012 - Yesterday, students and their allies flooded Aramark Corporate with hundreds of phone calls and emails - urging them to listen to students and make serious commitments about promoting justice, sustainability and transparency in their supply chain. 

Keep reading below for more background on this campaign:

The Campaign

Students are calling on food service giant Aramark to get real about supporting just and sustainable food systems.  

At schools like Brandeis University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and many others, for years students have worked with their dining hall managers to win more support for local farms and socially responsible food businesses. 

Aramark’s response?  They have directed local dining managers to cut all ties with student involved in RFC -- in some cases disrupting positive, 5-year long relationships between student groups and their local cafeteria managers.

We believe Aramark should listen to students -- their customers! -- and work with farmers, faculty researchers, cafeteria chefs and university administrators to come up with real food solutions.

On April 10th, students and allies across the country joined the Get Real, Aramark! Day of Action to Aramark’s corporate leadership -- as well as our own university administrators -- to listen to students and work together towards a more just and sustainable future.


Since 2008, students part of the Real Food Challenge have been working with university administrators to create a more just and sustainable food system on campus and beyond.  Our goal: to ensure that at least of 20% of our universities' food purchases come from socially responsible farms and food businesses--what we call ‘real food.’  

Real Food Challenge groups at schools as diverse as Iowa State University, Brown University and Cabrillo Community College saw great early successes. Their schools made sincere commitments to purchase more local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane foods.  In 2009, we won our biggest victory--the entire University of California system agreed to a sustainable food policy! (To learn more about Real Food Challenge, also see our organizational history.)

We believe that as students--as tuition-payers, as (often captive) meal-plan holders, as members of our campus communities--we deserve to know where the food we’re served on campus comes from. We deserve to have a voice in what types farms and food businesses our schools supports. Our approach has always been to bring all key stakeholders to the table, from growers to pickers to administrators, chefs and cafeteria workers, students -- everyone!  

In October 2011, we launched the Real Food Campus Commitment -- a pledge to be signed by university presidents, committing their school to increased real food purchasing, increased transparency, and increased community involvement and education when it comes to the campus food system.  In just the first few months a number of presidents--including at University of Vermont, St. Mary’s College in Indiana, and Drew University in New Jersey--have signed on.

As the momentum behind these changes grows, we believe the food service industry must follow suit.  Already, Bon Appétit Management Company and Sodexo have shown early signs of willingness to work with Real Food Challenge student leadership and develop new real food offerings.

For over 5 years, we have tried to work with Aramark cafeteria managers, hoping to win support for more local farmers and sustainable food businesses. There have been some successes—at the University of California-Irvine, where Aramark managers enthusiastically worked to implement the University of California sustainable food policy, or more recently, at Western Washington University, where Aramark’s contract stipulates that they work with Real Food Challenge students.  We applaud these real food champions for listening to students and joining the effort to create a more just and sustainable food system.

Nonetheless, Aramark's corporate leaders have mandated that their employees cut all ties with students involved in Real Food Challenge.  Of all the companies and schools we work with, Aramark alone has shut the door on the RFC student network. 

It’s time for Aramark to come to the table and work with students.  We're asking them to agree to 2 simple points:

  1. Endorse the Real Food Campus Commitment -- and collaborate with students who want to implement its core provisions (such as: at least 20% real food by 2020; a multi-stakeholder working group to oversee progress).
  2. Increase transparency by allowing students to use the Real Food Calculator to track where campus food comes from.

We believe Aramark can be a productive player in a real food economy by working with student leaders and committing to support just and sustainable food systems.