Aramark Services, Inc. provides food and clothing services to prisons and jails (as well as other facilities). As the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has documented, “Aramark is the largest provider of food services to U.S. prisons, having 38% of the market share” (in 2020, the company’s revenue was $12.8 billion). Aramark also services the immigration jails run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
As AFSC has reported, the food provided by Aramark harms the incarcerated people who consume it: “The company reduces quantities and has been repeatedly accused of severe health and safety violations, sanitation violations, unauthorized food substitutions, undercooked food, and food shortages. For example, in 2019, Aramark was sued by people who were incarcerated at California’s Santa Rita Jail for serving expired and spoiled food, as well as food infested with rodent, insect, and bird droppings. Though this case was dismissed on technicalities, rats, cockroaches, and bird droppings continued to be found in Aramark’s food as of November 2020.” In the state of Michigan’s prisons, Aramark has provided “maggot-infested food at least once in 2014 and again in 2015, food from the trash, and food partially-eaten by rodents.” Aramark also profits from providing other services to prisons, such as uniform laundry.
As AFSC reported, the company has been targeted by “student-led campaigns asking universities to stop contracting the company as their food vendor. Divestment campaigns targeting Aramark at New York University and Barnard College in New York as well as Trinity College in Ireland were successful in canceling their university’s contracts with Aramark. Students from Hamline University passed a resolution in the student congress to end ties with Aramark as the university's food service provider. Students at Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Louisville, Vanderbilt, and Yale have also put out calls to end their university’s ties to Aramark.”
Aramark provides catering services to the UMass Lowell and the contract is expected to run until 2030. Aramark even features UMass Lowell on its website as a successful “case study.” In 2020, UMass Lowell students have reported that the food they are being served isn’t edible, and an investigation found that the food contained “mold, worms, and purple-colored undercooked chicken,” and students have shared pictures of “bugs in their pasta, black substances on their lettuce, and worms in their broccoli.”
Aramark also received a dining services contract from Salem State University in 2019. Insidiously, Aramark wrote in the announcement of the Salem State University contract that the company “is recognized as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE, as well as an employer of choice by the Human Rights Campaign and Diversity Inc,” which runs contrary to Aramark's extensive records of abuse, food poisoning, and profiteering from human caging, colonialism, and criminalization.