Sodexo and YMCA of Central Florida Partner to Create a New Evidenced-Based Approach to Employee Wellness

Communities for Health, a Healthier Workforce Initiative for Working Families Begins as Pilot in Orlando and aims to combat preventable chronic illnesses

ORLANDO - June 4, 2015 – Today, Sodexo, Inc. and the YMCA of Central Florida announced a healthier workforce initiative designed in partnership by the two organizations to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. Communities for Health, a 3-year pilot program with the YMCA of Central Florida, was introduced today in Orlando to more than 250 regional business and healthcare leaders with keynote speakers Ann Albright, PhD, RD, the Director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. John Armstrong, Florida State Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health. The initiative’s goal is to combat preventable chronic illnesses that rack up healthcare expenditures, which nationally account for 18 percent of the GDP and are projected to rise sharply in years to come. The initiative is designed to enhance traditional and mostly underutilized employee wellness programs through a personal, system-based approach that engages employees at work and at home with behavior change support, increasing the likelihood of success. “With nearly 50 percent of adults having one or more chronic health conditions and healthcare costs projected to reach 34 percent of GDP by 2040, we simply cannot afford wellness programs that do not show results,” said Sodexo’s Senior Director of Health & Well-Being Nebeyou Abebe. “Through our partnership with the YMCA of Central Florida, we are creating a coordinated support system that delivers solutions tailored to individual needs to help families live healthier, happier and more productive lives.” Participation in Communities for Health begins at work with trained wellness champions encouraging their peers to enroll into the program via a consumer-friendly program website. An employee opts-in to receive customized text messages, starting with an invitation to schedule a diagnostic screening test to better understand their personal health status. Based on the results, participants are immediately connected to a lifestyle manager who recommends an appropriate program and serves as their health coach throughout the duration of the program.  Once their personal health plans are in place, a series of personal and text communications will be provided to support individual health goals and long term behavior change. As part of the program support, employees will be directed to the most convenient neighborhood YMCA to access evidence-based chronic disease prevention programs, fitness and healthy eating wellness classes and activities. As an incentive, employees are given a debit-based gift card that can be used at local and national merchants for continuing their participation. The program, which goes ‘live’ August 2015, has four specific objectives:
  • To engage workforces, through their employers, in general health and wellness activities by building an environment of support both at work and in their family/community;
  • To support employees according to their health risk levels and readiness to improve health habits, with an immediate connection of participants to their appropriate solution for disease prevention or intervention;
  • To increase engagement and reach into the community by building in an opportunity to have each participant bring a personal supporter, member of their family or household or someone they have identified who needs access to these services; and
  • To improve the health of workforce participants and decrease their both associated employee and employer healthcare costs.
“We share Sodexo’s commitment to improving the health of our communities and are thrilled to make healthy living support more accessible for more people through this employer-based program,” said YMCA of Central Florida’s Dan Wilcox, CEO, YMCA of Central Florida. “This region faces a number of public health challenges and exploring new approaches to prevention, as well as addressing common chronic diseases, is critical to the well-being of the community.” Not only does the prevalence of chronic disease continue to grow in staggering numbers across the U.S., but so does the burden on employers and especially employees in the form of higher out of pocket costs. Employee well-being can also have a significant impact on the overall performance of the organization, and companies with successful wellness programs are improving job satisfaction and raising retention rates. “Floridians spend about a third of their total waking hours at their place of work, so healthy environments and worksite wellness programs are essential to helping employees achieve healthy weight,” said Florida State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong.  “We are grateful for partnerships with organizations like Sodexo and the YMCA of Central Florida that have strong commitments to worksite wellness and that continue to engage employees to help move health forward in Florida.” As one of the largest employers in the world, including 130,000 employees across 9,000 sites in North America, Sodexo has a nearly unparalleled capacity to demonstrate the effectiveness of wellness programs in a broad range of communities and circumstances; and made possible in partnership with the YMCA, with its 2,700 Y’s across the country.


About the YMCA of Central Florida The YMCA of Central Florida is one of the area’s largest nonprofits committed to strengthening communities across Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Marion counties and the local communities it serves. It is a diverse organization of men, women and children joined by a shared commitment to Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility. Each day 35,000 Central Florida residents are impacted by the Y when a mentor inspires a child, individuals make healthy choices and a community comes together for common good. In 2014, this YMCA Association of over 1,800 employees across engaged over 235,000 residents and invested, during a challenging economy, $10.2 million in its local communities. The YMCA of Central Florida also provided $9.4 million in financial assistance to children and families, which supported lasting personal and social change. About Sodexo in North America Sodexo, Inc., the leading Quality-of-Life services provider in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc. is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md. and funds all administrative costs for the independent and charitable Sodexo Foundation – granting more than $25 million since 1999 to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at Visit Sodexo on Facebook and follow on Twitter @SodexoUSA.