Organizational Endorsement of the Call for Real Meals
Institutional food service (in schools, hospitals, stadiums, prisons, corporate cafeterias, etc.) is a $51 billion industry in the U.S. The three biggest food service management companies (FSMCs), Aramark, Compass Group, and Sodexo, run over half of the cafeterias in some sectors and purchase billions of dollars worth of food every year. Currently, the vast majority of that food comes from multinational corporations and large-scale manufacturers that harm our communities. These “Big Food” corporations pay workers and producers less than they need to support themselves and their families; they rely on practices that are damaging to our health and the environment, such as excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers; and they often market food that is highly processed and nutritionally deficient. Many of these vendors are the biggest players in industries that are concentrated to the point of market failure. Relationships between FSMCs and Big Food corporations are maintained through a system of exclusive contracts and off-invoice rebates that systematically impedes food service managers from purchasing Real Food.
The food service management industry must stop favoring Big Food over the wellbeing of communities and instead become an active force for good working conditions, environmental sustainability, and racial equity. It must meet the dietary needs of the communities it is serving, which includes providing culturally appropriate and nourishing food.
Alongside the Community Coalition for Real Meals, we call on Aramark, Compass Group and Sodexo to FUNDAMENTALLY REORIENT THEIR BUSINESS MODEL AWAY FROM A SYSTEM OF EXCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH BIG FOOD COMPANIES AND TOWARD REAL MEALS THAT SUPPORT PRODUCERS, COMMUNITIES, CONSUMERS AND THE PLANET.
As a first step, we are asking each company to commit to the following in the higher education sector:
ACHIEVE 25% REAL FOOD FOR EVERY CAMPUS
- Purchase 25% of food from sources that are local & community based, fair, ecologically sound, and/or humane, as defined by the Real Food Standards, in every higher education account.
- Shift toward seafood from local & community based fishers
INVEST IN RACIAL JUSTICE AND EQUITY
- Expand purchasing from disenfranchised farmers, fishers and ranchers -- particularly Black producers. Designate a company liaison to develop these relationships
- Invest at least $1 million in infrastructure to improve market access for disenfranchised producers
- Prioritize stakeholder input (e.g. campus religious and cultural groups) in menu planning to meet the needs of marginalized groups
REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS AND CONVENTIONAL ANIMAL PRODUCTS
- Reduce purchases of factory-farmed meat, poultry and cheese by 25%. Invest in Real Food alternatives.
- Reduce carbon emissions across the companies’ supply chains by 25%.
INCREASE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
- Commit to clear and swift timelines for implementing each of these targets
- Track and report on progress. The Community Coalition for Real Meals will publish report cards on the progress of each company.