Aramark Corporation is a company known for its food service to clients including businesses, correctional facilities and educational institutions. The multi-million dollar company serves more than 500 higher education institutions, and Loyola is one of them.
In recent years, Aramark has become infamous for its underhanded operations and unethical practices.
Aramark stands to gain from private prisons, such as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, by spending $25 million lobbying for longer prison sentencing, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute.
This lobbying led to the creation of the “three strike policy” in 1994, which sentences people with more than two nonviolent offenses to life without parole.
Private prisons profit because with increasing rates of mass incarceration comes more government funds. Businesses such as Aramark also profit because high prison populations mean prisons need to supply more food.
Aramark has shown itself to provide below-standard service and partake in the inhumane treatment of prisoners.
The company has lost contracts and faced fines from states that employed the company to supply food at jails and correctional facilities, according to Investigate, a segmented project of the American Friends Service Community (AFSC).
In 2014, Michigan fined Aramark $200,000 for a loaded compilation of legal problems. One infraction was unsanitary working conditions — maggots were found in food preparation areas and in the food itself — and underfeeding prisoners, along with many other violations of Federal Drug Administration and civil rights laws, according to AFSC.
Cases similar to this occurred in other states such as Ohio, Kentucky and Florida.
Between producing and providing sickening food to taking advantage of prison labor, Aramark’s ethical position is clearly nothing short of abhorrent.
Aramark’s impact doesn’t end with its involvement with the prison system; Aramark is a major food supplier at schools across the country, including Loyola.
By employing Aramark, Loyola is not only supporting a company that has proven time and time again to disregard humanitarian and civil rights completely, but it’s also violating the very pillars of the Jesuit ideals that the institution prides itself on.
How can a university teach its students “ethical behavior in business and in all professions” when the university employs such a blatantly unethical corporation?
How can a Jesuit institution completely neglect the Jesuit promise of “confronting the structures of our world that perpetuate injustice?”
If Loyola is aware of Aramark’s actions — it would be hard not to be aware — it’s just as guilty of promoting the prison industrial complex and points to a deep hypocrisy in Loyola’s relationship with its Jesuit values.
I urge Loyola to reconsider its contract with Aramark in order to reflect an ideology that truly promotes social justice and serves to protect the dignity of all human beings.