UPDATED: 2 p.m. Oct. 28

When Elon University students walked into Lakeside Dining Hall for lunch on Thursday, they were handed a pamphlet with the headline, "The Life of an Aramark Chicken." The front of the flyer featured a picture of an abused chicken.

The pamphlets were being handed out by senior Marissa Costner and Humane League member Maddie Segal.

"We are asking [Aramark] to change a few of their policies to make it better for animals," Segal said.

Segal and Costner hope to serve as the face of the nationwide petition for Aramark to improve their treatment of animals.

"We're spreading more information about it so people realize what is happening, what's being supported by Elon, in the hopes that they'll realize the public support for what they're doing is not there and they need to be making changes to reflect their claims that they care about animals," Costner said.

According to Aramark’s Purchasing Policy, Aramark “supports eliminating slaughtering systems that use live dumping and shackling.”

Karen Cutler, the media contact for Aramark said in an email that, “the sole reason for the campaign is that we are working with respected groups like the Humane Society of the U.S. and Compassion in World Farming, and not them.”

“Aramark takes the humane treatment of animals very seriously,” Cutler said. “In addition to being one of the largest companies to commit to purchase only cage-free eggs in the U.S. by 2020, we are actively working to address animal welfare related to the growing conditions for chickens raised by our suppliers.”

According to Aramark’s Animal Welfare Principles and Policy, “Aramark’s mission to enrich and nourish lives means ensuring a foundation of providing safe, nutritious, quality food is core to who we are. Our commitment to health, wellness and sustainability are central to these tenets.”

Aramark’s policy highlights “five freedoms” of animal welfare including freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.”

According to Costner, the petition started by the Humane League has already garnered more than 90,000 signatures from schools across the country.

Segal said this petition is particularly important here at Elon because one major chicken producer, Tyson Foods, has locations throughout the state.

"North Carolina is a huge Tyson producer and so a lot of these chickens are actually being tortured in our very own state," Segal said.

Cutler said Tyson Foods does not torture their animals and Aramark works directly with Tyson Foods “to ensure they will make needed improvements for the humane treatment of the chickens they raise.”

This petition has piqued the interest of many Elon students who stopped to ask Segal and Costner what they were doing and how they could help. Segal said she directed them to Pulkit Vigg, Elon Dining Resident District Manager, or Mike Bellefeuil, Elon Dining Director of Operations.

Segal and Costner said they hope that if enough people support the cause, they can help make these changes possible.

"I think that all students, whether they eat meat or not, can agree that [animals] should be treated better in our food system," Segal said. "That's the goal. We just want these few things to make their lives a little better."

Costner said she's confident that changes will be made with the support of her peers.

"If enough students get angry enough, then maybe [Elon] will say 'Hey you know what, maybe we should drop Aramark and go to a different group,'" she said.

Cutler disputed this and said Aramark’s policy said that many food providers are currently struggling meeting current standards.

“At this point, just one to two percent of all the broiler chickens grown in the U.S. are raised in a manner that meets the new farming conditions,” Cutler said. “Producing sustainably sourced broiler chickens is currently a challenge for the entire poultry and food industry, not just Aramark. We are committed to being part of the solution.”

While the goal is to improve the treatment of chickens by Aramark and not necessarily to stop using Aramark as Elon's food provider, Costner said she just wants Aramark to make a change for the future.

According to Cutler, Aramark is currently working on implementing a plan to figure out “how Aramark’s large purchasing volumes can be met.”

This story will continue to be updated.


ORIGINAL STORY

When Elon University students walked into Lakeside Dining Hall for lunch today, they were handed a pamphlet with the headline, "The Life of an Aramark Chicken." The front of the flyer featured a picture of an abused chicken.

The pamphlets were being handed out by senior Marissa Costner and Humane League member Maddie Segal.

"We are asking [Aramark] to change a few of their policies to make it better for animals," Segal said.

Segal and Costner hope to server as the face of the nationwide petition for Aramark to improve their treatment of animals.

"We're spreading more information about it so people realize what is happening, what's being supported by Elon, in the hopes that they'll realize the public support for what they're doing is not there and they need to be making changes to reflect their claims that they care about animals," Costner said.

According to Costner, the petition started by the Humane League has already garnered more than 90,000 signatures from schools across the country. 

Segal said this petition is particularly important here at Elon because one major chicken producer, Tyson Foods, has locations throughout the state.

"North Carolina is a huge Tyson producer and so a lot of these chickens are actually being tortured in our very own state," Segal said. 

This petition has piqued the interest of many Elon students who stopped to ask Segal and Costner what they were doing and how they could help. Segal said she directed them to Pulkit Vigg, Elon Dining Resident District Manager, or Mike Bellefeuil, Elon Dining Director of Operations.

Segal and Costner said they hope that if enough people support the cause, they can help make these changes possible.

"I think that all students, whether they eat meat or not, can agree that [animals] should be treated better in our food system," Segal said. "That's the goal. We just want these few things to make their lives a little better."

Costner said she's confident that changes will be made with the support of her peers.

"If enough students get angry enough, then maybe [Elon] will say 'Hey you know what, maybe we should drop Aramark and go to a different group,'" she said. 

While the goal is to improve the treatment of chickens by Aramark and not necessarily to stop using Aramark as Elon's food provider, Costner said she just wants Aramark to make a change for the future.

Costner and Segal said they have reached out to Aramark but have yet to get a productive response. 


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