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April 2016,

Dear (Editor)
Registered Dietitians (RDs), and Food Service Managers all play a very critical
role in the daily operations of a successfully run food service facility. There are numerous members of a team that all work together to provide a safe and quality product to
provide to customers. Team members include cooks, servers, managers, prep-workers,
dish-room workers, and stock-room employees. All team members are critical and depend on each other to successfully run the kitchen. The foodservice industry is constantly changing and always looking for ways to improve to satisfy customer demands.
One of the new emerging trends in the dietetics and foodservice industry today
focuses on making an operation run in a more environmentally friendly way. Aramark
has been implementing the Green Thread Program at facilities all around the world to
make improvements in facilities to operate in a more energy efficient way. This study
takes a look at how the Green Thread Program is benefitting both foodservice facilities
along with the environment. The ideas behind the program are still being spread from
facility to facility. However, as more benefits are being observed from implementation of
the program, the more facilities are beginning to take the program more seriously.
This study focuses on how employees are being educated about the Green
Thread Program, benefits that have come about from using ideas from the program,
and statistical data from Aramark foodservice accounts regarding the program. As more
and more facilities continue to implement the Green Thread Program, the more positive
the impact will be on the environment. In doing so, facilities also tend to run much more
efficiently. Aramarks Green Thread Program can have limitless benefits on the envi-

ronment as a whole, and it is important for facilities to start using the ideas behind the
program.
Sincerely,

Robert Aardema
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Aardema-Robert@Aramark.com

Angela Dennison
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Dennison-Angela@Aramark.com

Kathy Fuchs
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Fuchs-Kathy@Aramark.com

Author Page

Dietetic interns gather information from various Aramark food service accounts regarding
the Green Thread program and how it is beneficial to implement.
Robert Aardema
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Aardema-Robert@Aramark.com
Angela Dennison
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Dennison-Angela@Aramark.com
Kathy Fuchs
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Fuchs-Kathy@Aramark.com

Abstract
The foodservice industry is a very competitive field that is always progressing
and coming up with better ways to provide customers with the product they are looking
for. Foodservice operations all around the world are using new ideas and technologies
to run their business in a more efficient way to meet demands. However, issues have
come about regarding the way operations are running their business and whether or not
it is detrimental to the environment. One of the more popular emerging trends in the industry today is the practice of being environmentally friendly in the way you run your
business. Aramarks Green Thread Program is being implemented in facilities all around
the world to help spread ideas and methods to run a more efficient operation in a
greener kind of way. This paper provides an introduction about the Green Thread Program, methods used for implementing the program, results gathered from operations
that have implemented the program, and conclusions about the program. The Green
Thread Program can have a very positive effect on the environment as more and more
facilities are beginning to implement it. The primary target of this paper is to portray the
ideas behind the Green Thread Program, how facilities have been educating employees
about the program, and how facilities have benefitted from implementing the program.

Robert Aardema
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Aardema-Robert@Aramark.com

Angela Dennison
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Dennison-Angela@Aramark.com

Kathy Fuchs
Dietetic Intern
Aramark Healthcare Distance Learning Dietetic Internship
Fuchs-Kathy@Aramark.com

Introduction
Healthy living is no longer a focus on just healthy eating. Healthy living incorporates healthy practices such as understanding how food is grown, where it is grown and
how it affects the environment overall. According to Shelley Balanko, Senior VP of the
Hartman Group, a growing number of consumers today are driving the conversation
away from just economic value to broader, overarching values such as planetary
health, animal welfare and social concerns. In other words, it is believed that values and
ethics, as well as science, are important when making decisions (1). Sustainable practices have been a growing trend over the past two decades with increased emphasis
within foodservice systems in healthcare settings in more recent years. Aramark, a
leader in facility food service, employs thousands of people and strives for a goal of
serving two billion meals each year, according to Aramark.com. That type of service requires a lot of resources. Aramark has implemented a program called the Green Thread
Program; their way of giving back and promoting sustainability throughout the company
to help address these important issues and trends and to preserve the environment for
future generations. In the food service setting in Aramark, there are salaried food service managers, hourly food service supervisors and hourly food service employees; all
which are affected by the Green Thread program. To understand the impact of Green
Thread in its entirety, three main components need to be considered. Those components include the impact of employee education for company/program success, sustainability in Aramarks food service operations and overall environmental impact of
those sustainable practices. To what extent does the training of Aramark employees on

the Green Thread program in food service operations at hospital accounts impact the
environment?
Training is a necessity in the workplace. Without it, employees do not have a firm
grasp on their responsibilities or duties. Employee training refers to programs that provide workers with information, new skills, or professional development opportunities (2).
If a facility does not implement the Green Thread program, that is already one area of
opportunity for Aramark to grow in its sustainability. If the program is implemented, the
training and follow-through by employees is the most important and it starts from the top
down. It is important that the food service managers have a training program in place,
train effectively, and follow up to ensure employees understand the material. If employees are trained on recycling but are not recycling on the job, the training is a waste of
time and resources. Conducting a training requires labor. The labor includes paying for
the manager/supervisor carrying out the training, employees going through the training,
printing out materials and evaluating employees to ensure understanding. According to
Glass Door, a typical Aramark food service employee makes $9.28 per hour and a food
service supervisor makes $13.84 per hour. The size of a foodservice operation determines how many employees are needed to successfully operate. For example, if an
Aramark kitchen employs 50 food service employees and they go through a one hour
Green Thread training, that is $464 spent on that one hour training for only one food
service operation throughout Aramark accounts. That does not include the time spent by
the manager or supervisor to print and gather materials, carry out the training and evaluate understanding. Time is money; budget may be an issue in certain companies and
there might not be additional funds available for additional training. However, multiple

studies have shown that under-trained employees cost the company more money due
to re-training or improperly utilizing resources. Manager enthusiasm has also been
shown to be a factor in successful implementation of programs. If the manager supports
the program, employees typically follow suit. Social support and access to training can
also play a significant role into the level of commitment that is established. Employees
are likely to place greater value on training programs that are highly respected by colleagues, supervisors, and managers (3).
The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) is in part, driving the decision for many
hospitals to seek more sustainable practices. This national campaign seeks to make
improvements in the healthcare sector through sustainability and increased environmental health. (4) According to Aramarks website, the Green Thread Program has three
key components: Planet, People, & Profit. For the Planet component, decisions and actions must be environmentally sound, meaning they are safe and renewable. The People component focuses on social responsibility and the Profit component looks at economic viability through long-term vitality (4). Research has also shown that sustainable
practices in rural hospitals provides the opportunity to increasingly support local
economies through purchasing from local food sources as well as providing a higher
level of quality care in nutrition (5).
An article from the Daily Global Journal discussed Aramarks Green Thread
program in more depth by stating some of the practices at Safeco Field, which is home
to Seattles Major League Baseball team, the Mariners. Back in 2007, employees who
worked at Safeco Field were educated on Aramarks Green Thread program and sustainable practices. Simple things, such as turning off certain equipment when not in use,

helped the Mariners save $146,830 dollars in electricity costs alone during the 2007
season (6). Scott Jenkins, the MLB clubs vice president of ballpark operations, stated
that these savings came from simply educating the ballpark employees on sustainable
techniques. Turning off equipment when it is not in use, also reduces emissions that are
harmful to the environment. These emissions contribute to pollution and the effect of
global warming. Also, with using the energy needed for equipment only when needed, it
helps preserve the natural resources that are precious and essential to life on earth. Being more energy efficient both saved the ballpark money and had a positive impact on
the environment. That same year, the Mariners also recycled 345 tons of waste, which
saved them $40,000 for not having to pay to dump paper and cardboard into landfills. If
more large facilities used sustainable practices similar to the ones used at Safeco Park,
landfill waste could be greatly reduced. For example: There are 30 teams in Major
League Baseball. If each stadium recycled 345 tons (similar to the Mariners), it is calculated that 10,350 tons of waste can potentially be diverted from the landfills. Research
also shows the implementation of sustainable practices is highly influenced by three factors: social influence, perceived behavioral control and personal attitude (7). Part of the
research is to identify environmental impacts that come from training employees about
the Aramark Green Thread program. Majority of facilities that have trained their employees about sustainability have been successful in reducing amounts of waste, energy,
and water while increasing amounts of recycled materials. The opportunity at the hospital is for top-level managers to educate and train their employees on sustainable practice techniques. Food and nutrition managers have an important role in the food distribution and access sector of the food system.

Their actions impact allocation of energy, water, and indoor air quality for labor and
equipment inputs within the food production system, and their resource decisions impact both the natural environment and the US economy (2). Phoebe Putney Memorial
Hospital in Albany, Georgia, provides brochures around the cafeteria discussing the
Green Thread program. At Phoebe, most of the employees seem to be well trained
about sustainable practices, however there are still ways to improve. More materials
can be recycled to reduce waste, re-useable containers could be used for frequent visitors in the cafeteria, and employees can adapt the practice of shutting off equipment
and utilities when they are not in use.
Sustainable practices are known to be effective in reducing waste and recycling materials. As more and more facilities begin to use these principles outlined by
the Green Thread Program, it will play a huge role on efficient ways for Aramark food
service facilities to reduce waste. This research project will address the question of how
the training for the Green Thread Program influences the overall environmental impact
of the foodservice operations. The findings are expected to be used to make improvements, which would allow greater participation in the Green Thread Program. Successful implementation will not only benefit the individual account, but also the communities
they are established in. If all of Aramarks food service employees were trained on the
Green Thread Program and implemented it correctly, the environmental impact would
be significant.

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Methodology
This study has a focus of sustainability throughout Aramark with an emphasis on
the Green Thread program throughout Aramark food service accounts. The study is a
cross-sectional study which is an observational study that involves the analysis of collected data from a specific population at a specific time. The collected data includes
data from a survey from current food service managers throughout Aramark.
The primary subjects for this study are salaried food service managers throughout Aramark in the healthcare setting; the only inclusion criteria. Exclusion criteria includes any position outside of Aramark food service manager. The survey will be created using Google Docs and will consist of ten questions. Cindy Banta, Dietetic Intern Director, will send the survey out to food service managers throughout Aramark. The email
will explain the survey, as well as provide a link to the survey. The first question of the
survey will determine if that site implements the Green Thread program. If the answer is
No, the manger is encouraged to submit their survey after answering the first question.
These questions are designed to answer the research question set by our group. The
questions focus on training, recycling done on site, utilization of local products and
managerial attitudes towards sustainability. Google Docs has the ability to gather and
condense the data received from those completing the survey. Once the data is collected, data will be analyzed in order to answer the research question. Unless 100% of food
service managers complete the survey, it will be difficult to establish how many sites utilize/do not utilize the Green Thread program. At least 8-10 samples are needed to
gather the information needed to make a conclusion.

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The resources needed include internet access, a program to create an online


survey, cooperation of food service managers throughout Aramark for completion of
survey, and the program Excel to organize the collected data. There is no funding needed to conduct this study. For data evaluation, descriptive statistics will be used. The data
will be put into an Excel worksheet for easy interpretation.
Once data is collected and evaluated, it will be determined what is working,
where improvements can be made, existing barriers, and the estimated reach of the
Green Thread program. With these findings, suggested changes and improvements can
be made or added to Aramarks policies in order to better promote and increase the participation in the Green Thread Program. It is expected that not all surveys will be responded to and returned for the purposes of this project (survey found in appendix A).

Results
A total of 86 Aramark Foodservice Managers responded to the survey. According
to the submitted surveys, 14% (12/86) implement the program, while 85% (74/86) sites
do not implement the Green Thread program.
The sizes of the foodservice operations vary. However, 33% of the sites that implement the program are smaller operations that have 30-50 employees; 25% have over
100 employees; 25% have 55-80 employees and 17% have 85-100 employees (Table
1). These sites collectively recycle paper, bottles (glass and plastic), cans, cooking oils
and grease. By doing so, a significant amount of waste has been diverted from the landfill. Half of sites (50%) are unable to determine the amount of tons they recycle per year,
while others have a method of tracking or submitted an educated guess based off of the
size of their account, ordering patterns and amount of actual waste in a given day.
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Table 1: Food Service Operation Team Size

Table 2: Landfill Diversion by the Ton

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When taking the six accounts that are unsure out of the equation, these six Aramark
foodservice accounts divert 1160-3610 tons of waste from the landfill on a yearly basis
(Table 2). That is an average of 193-602 tons per site. If the 86 sites surveyed implemented Green Thread with similar waste diversion, an estimated 16,598-51,772 tons of
waste can potentially be diverted from the landfill every year.
The top challenge for Aramark foodservice managers is not enough time for training (Table 3). In fact 50% of the sites state that time is an issue; 42% state there is a
lack of training materials available; 25% of sites state there is a lack of employee understanding; 17% state that employee turn-over makes the implementation of Green
Thread a challenge and 17% state that the managers themselves do not
fully understand the program.
Table 3: Implementing Green Thread

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Overall the impact of the Green Thread Program has a positive effect on the accounts that implement it. According to the survey:

75% increased recycling

58% decreased waste

33% increases sustainable food vendors

33% increased client satisfaction

25% changed menu choices

17% decreased energy costs

A total of three accounts report one negative effect each from implementing the Green
Thread program. Those accounts report a decrease in sales, increase cost to their account or stated that there is no noticeable difference from implementing the program.

Discussion
The Green Thread Program has the potential to make a very large impact on the
amount of waste created by Aramark food service accounts. Large companies in the
food industry naturally create a lot of waste and it is a team effort to reduce that waste
and focus on green initiatives. Green Thread is not a mandatory program; rather, it is
there to be utilized by those who are able to implement it at their sites. Aramark foodservice managers are the focus of this research to determine what training materials are
provided and used at their site. After collecting and analyzing the collected data, the research show that the majority of Aramark sites (surveyed) do not implement the Green
Thread Program. The research question of To what extent does the training of Aramark
employees on the Green Thread program in food service operations at the hospital ac-

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count, impact the environment? focuses primarily on the training given to employees.
The results of this study show that every site that implements the Green Thread program does have training in place. Training styles vary from conducting trainings at meetings/huddles and providing hand-outs and brochures.
The goal of this research was to determine how the training impacts the overall
implementation of the Green Thread program. Through data collected from 86 sites, 12
sites state that they are actively utilizing the Green Thread program. Strengths of this
study include the number of sites involved in the study; 86 total. This large number provided an excellent portrait to how Green Thread is utilized throughout Aramark foodservice operations. Another strength is understanding what these sites struggle with when
it comes to implementing the program at their site. Even though they have training in
place, each site stated that they do have difficulties carrying out those trainings; time
being the biggest factor.
Limitations include the survey itself. If a site stated NO to implementing Green
Thread, the site was asked to submit their survey without going any further. The reason
to why the sites did not implement the program, is now unknown. These unknown reasons could have added information useful to the research topic of training. Also, this
study did not take into account other green initiatives the sites may be utilizing. Many
hospitals already have green programs implemented which may be another factor to
why certain sites do not specifically utilize the Green Thread program.
Disadvantages include not understanding why the majority of sites do not implement the Green Thread program. The only answers gathered were from sites that do
utilize the program. It is not safe to assume that training or lack thereof is the reason the

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majority of the sites do not implement the Green Thread Program. Another disadvantage is the study did not ask questions relevant to the success of the program. The majority of sites were unsure to how much waste they divert from the landfill. If those numbers are not kept track of, how is the success of Green Thread at their site measured?

Conclusion
Knowledge, training and implementation of recycling programs can have a large impact on local and overall environmental health, diverting significant amounts of waste
from landfills. Results report that sites implementing environmental practices experience benefits such as: increased recycling efforts for paper, glass and plastic bottles,
cans, and cooking oils/grease. Results also indicated more sustainable food vendors,
improved client satisfaction, and decreased waste and energy costs. Some sites reported negative impacts of decreased sales or increased costs associated with such a
program. To encourage more sites to implement green programs, it is suggested to find
ways of overcoming the barriers of time needed to train employees, more training materials available, and providing more information on the importance of such programs and
the positive impact they can have on the environment. Two flaws of the study are that
one question was unanswered on all returned surveys, presumably due to a glitch in the
program used for the surveys and the fact that those sites that do not implement the
program were not given a chance to explain why. Future studies should examine which
types of training or resources managers would find most beneficial in order to implement such programs at their worksites.

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Appendix A

Data Collection Tool via Google Docs (survey)


Sustainability at Aramark
Dietetic Interns are working together to gather information about the sustainability within
Aramark. By completing this survey, you are providing them with very useful information.
Thank you for your time.
The Green Thread program is Aramark's way of giving back to the environment; it focuses on sustainably grown and raised food purchasing, locally grown products and socially responsible product purchasing. This survey is meant to gauge how many Aramark food service managers implement the Green Thread Program and how the program is utilized at their site.
* Required
Is the Green Thread Program used at your site? *
o

( ) Yes

( ) No

( ) It will be in the future

( ) If answered NO, please submit your form at the bottom of the page

How do you educate your hourly/managerial staff on Green Thread Program?


Choose all that apply
o

[ ] Trainings at meetings

[ ] Incorporates trainings in on-boarding associates

[ ] Hand-outs/brochures

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In what ways has the Green Thread Program impacted your facility?
Choose all that apply
o

[ ] Decrease in waste

[ ] Increase in recycling

[ ] Increase in sustainable food vendors

[ ] Increase in food products

[ ] Lower energy costs

[ ] Menu changes

[ ] Increase in sales

[ ] Decrease in sales

[ ] Increase in client satisfaction

[ ] Increase cost to account

[ ] No noticeable difference

[ ] Other:

Do you feel that you have been provided sufficient training materials in order to train
your staff on Green Thread?
o

[ ] Yes

[ ] No

[ ] If answered no, what materials would you find helpful? Please explain below

[ ] Other:

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to implementing the Green Thread program?
Choose all that apply

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[ ] Not enough time to hold additional training

[ ] Lack of employee understanding

[ ] Employee turn-over

[ ] Knowledge of Green Thread Program

[ ] Training Materials

How many people are employed in food service operations at your site? (Include managers, supervisors, employees)
o

[ ] 30-50

[ ] 55-80

[ ] 85-100

[ ] Over 100

What items do you recycle on a daily basis? Choose all that apply
o

[ ] Cans

[ ] Bottles (plastic and glass)

[ ] Plastic silverware

[ ] Paper

If your site recycles, how much estimated waste is diverted from the landfill annually?
Diverted waste is anything that your site recycles or composts
o

[ ] 10-20 tons

[ ] 30-50 tons

[ ] 100-500 tons

[ ] 1000-3000 tons

[ ] over 5000 tons

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Does your site utilize local vendors or products?


o

[ ] Yes

[ ] No

[ ] If answered yes, how many? Answer below

[ ] Other:

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Work Cited
(1) How Will Sustainability Shape the Next Decade in Dietetics? Stone Soup stonesoup.
Available at: http://www.foodandnutrition.org/stone-soup/june-2014/how-will-sustainability-shape-the-next-decade-in-dietetics/. Accessed June 2016.
(2) Robinson-Obrien R, Gerald BL. Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Abstract: Promoting Ecological Sustainability within the Food System. Journal of
the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:464464.
(3) Available at: http://www.visitasilomar.com/media/2899/greenthreadclientoverview.pdf. Accessed 2016.
(4) Available: https://www.aramark.net/healthcare/home/topic.aspx?
id=3712&contentid=113910.
(5) Schaeffer J. Sustainable Hospital Foodservice. Today's Dietitian 2014;16:3434.
(6)Muret D. Aramark flashes its green with biodegradable trade-show booth. Sports Business Daily Global Journal 2008. Available at: http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com. Accessed 2015.
(7) Huang, Elisa ; Gregoire, Mary B. ; Tangney, Christy ; Stone, Marcelle K.
Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 2011, Vol.14(3), p.241-255.

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