Monday, April 5, 2010

Decision time

I haven't made any posts in a while as I have been torn.

As I blogged in the past, I had been pointed to the Aramark ingredient disclosure policy listed on their website. On the food allergies page in plain black and white it says:
Upon request, we share with customers all ingredients that go into our final product.

So I emailed the representatives with whom I had spoken before, hoping that maybe the ingredient secrecy had all just been a big mistake on their own policies.

A week later I had received no response. So I forwarded the email to their boss.
And their boss.
And their boss.

The next day I got a phone call. Unfortunately for me, it was not from Aramark, but from the coordinator for a healthy schools grant project I have become involved with.

That day I learned exactly what having a "conflict of interest" meant.

(I would explain further but feel I have an obligation to keep such privileged information to myself)

After that phone call I realized I had a choice to make; either
1. Ignore the fact that Aramark was not following their OWN POLICY and continue with the grant project with which I could inspire wellness in other ways at my school and still work to bring national attention to ingredient transparency or
2. Leave the healthy schools project and fight the wrong

At that point I had no idea what I was going to do. I felt a responsibility for the project and my school... but I was also angry. I felt disrespected for having been ignored by Aramark representatives, and I was flabbergasted by the fact that they were not only being unethical by denying me these ingredients, but were also doing it under the public's false pretense that it wasn't their policy to do so.

That same day I got an email back from Aramark representatives.


Thank you for your inquiry. It is currently being reviewed by our corporate office. We appreciate your patience and will respond accordingly.

Over the weekend I sat on it. I was free to illuminate Aramark and ingredient transparency on a national level but if I chose the healthy schools project I would have to pretend none of this ever happened.

Today I went back to school and talked to some friends and teachers who offered a lot of support and guidance.

Now I know what I have to do.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the project coordinator.

Tomorrow night I will post another blog.


  1. I think Conflict of Interest is usually what makes everything wrong. The school lunches would be great and healthy if it was not for the manufacturing and drug companies that want our kids obese so they can sell them more product... Tough choices in Life !!! Good Luck...

  2. I've been wondering where you were! If you need to step away from this fight, please get a friend not involved in the healthy schools project to step in!

  3. Wow, well... I don't know what to say. If it were I in your position, I would step down from the HSP in order to fight the reason that the HSP exists. :)

    I look forward to your next post!

  4. It seems that whomever has influence over your healthy schools grant project coordinator is the one with the conflict of interest. It most certainly is not you and your actions.

    Could it be that Aramark is funding the grant?

    You have no idea how proud so many people you've never met are of you. You are not only doing something direct and relevant, but something that is much needed- bringing awareness and transparency. Be smart and be fearless. What looks like a set back is often be a gateway to the next level.

    My choice would be to select the greater good, whichever in your heart you feel that should be. Trust your intuition.

  5. My school has contracted Aramark for our dining services, and they are absolutely ridiculous. I'm a vegan in a liberal university--one of hundreds, actually. We've petitioned for everything and anything to make them more vegan-friendly. At best they fed us unlabeled non-vegetarian marshmallows and buttermilk pancakes on "Vegan Night" (in only one of eleven dining halls), and at worst they consistently label meat products as "vegan" (a few examples: clam chowder, salmon salad, bacon bits). Every time we tried to do something about it, we were met with figurative rolls and rolls of red tape.

    I feel your pain!