While the redevelopment of West Seattle's High Point community has transformed it into a beautiful neighborhood, more than 75 percent of the residents live at or below the area median income. The average income for a family of four is less than $20,000 a year, and residents lack access to fresh, nutritious food, and suffer from higher-than-average nutrition- and obesity-related health issues.
ARAMARK, the global professional services company, will establish an ARAMARK Building Community Opportunity Zone at Neighborhood House's High Point Center that will be a hub for local residents to address these health issues by learning about nutrition and healthy food. The High Point Center provides a variety of services to low-income families to help them achieve self-sufficiency, health and wellness, and improve their community.
This project is part of a two-year relationship between ARAMARK and Neighborhood House that is helping High Point families thrive. Through ARAMARK Building Community (ABC), the company's global volunteer and philanthropic program, ARAMARK strengthens local community centers and helps struggling families in the U.S. and abroad.
"Residents of High Point struggle not only with obesity and diabetes, but also with issues including asthma, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many came from war-torn countries," explained Mark Okazaki, Executive Director, in a prepared statement. "We have more than 30 different ethnic groups in this community, and ARAMARK volunteers are helping us turn gardening and health education into a common language to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together."
The ABC Opportunity Zone will include an outdoor classroom where ARAMARK culinary and nutrition experts will teach a series of nutrition education workshops for children and families. These workshops will provide the tools to encourage and support balanced nutrition and physical activity. More than 100 volunteers are participating, building planter boxes for families, providing soil and seeds to help them grow their own fruits and vegetables, and revitalizing the overall center environment.
"Our volunteers are working with Neighborhood House to help them address a variety of social issues, including health and wellness," said Bruce Fears, president, ARAMARK Parks and Destinations, in a prepared statement. "Today we expanded our commitment to the community by creating the foundation for an ongoing nutrition education program. Our chefs, dietitians and culinarians will lend their expertise, helping address the fight against obesity, lead healthy and successful lives, and build a strong and vibrant community."