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Sodexo and YMCA of Central Florida Join Forces to Advance Health and Well-being for Individuals, Families and Communities

A Q&A session with Nebeyou Abebe, Senior Director for Health & Well-being at Sodexo and Greg Rowland, Associate Buyer Inventory Acquisition at Orlando Utilities Commission.

Greg before and after Sodexo’s Core4 Lifestyle Management Program.

(Nebeyou): Why did you choose to participate in Communities for Health?

(Greg): At the beginning of 2016 I had hit rock bottom with my health. It was hard for me to walk down a set of stairs without taking it one step at a time, and waking up was a chore until I had eaten 6 Advil. I was a mess and I knew it. I hemmed and hawed with saying that I was going to do something and never following through with anything. Then, the Health Fair came along later that year and I figured what the hay, I mean they were offering some monetary incentives, but after seeing my numbers and knowing that I was really unhealthy, I decided to sign up for Sodexo’s Core-4 Lifestyle Management Program and take a first step toward getting healthy.


(Nebeyou): How has Sodexo’s Core4 lifestyle management program positively impacted your life?

(Greg): I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to my employer, the Orlando Utilities Commission, for providing me the opportunity to participate in this program.  Like anything, you have to want it and I was ready and willing to make the change. What really intrigued me was that Sodexo’s Core4 lifestyle management program was not a diet, but a focus on overall lifestyle changes. The first few months were a struggle, but with the encouragement of the group and the accountability factor of not wanting to let them or the course instructor Bernice Boivin (a Sodexo registered dietitian) down, I forged ahead.


The first 5 pounds was the toughest. I was not thrilled that after almost two months that was all that I lost, but Bernice gave me the fat display, which weighed 5 pounds and I was amazed after holding it how significant even 5 pounds felt. So, I was encouraged to get the next 5 off and so on.


I started with small routines like using the stairs instead of the elevator. I also joined the gym and spent 10 minutes a few times a week doing small things with some weights. Then, with my diet, I tried new things like salads in a jar that I started bringing to work each day along with oatmeal every morning.  Now again, I did not go on a diet. I still enjoy chicken wings and a piece of pizza (a piece, not half a pie like I used to), but I also enjoy the healthier foods much more now than I ever thought I would. Losing 50 lbs. and 11 inches off my waist has not only physically transformed me, but I am happier than I have been in a long time.


(Nebeyou): How has this program empowered you to have a healthier life?

(Greg): In 12 months, I have gone from telling my daughter that daddy does not feel good enough to play ball in the yard to once again experiencing the joy of running after every single ball she throws over my head. That is almost empowerment enough, but I get excited to shop for new clothes and donate all my big boy clothes. I am proud to be a positive example to not only my family, but also others I come across and hopefully, a few more who read this interview. I recently got my dentist office on the salad in a jar kick and they sent me picture of them with all their salads. They said that my weight loss and story inspired them and they are now doing it as a group, which is awesome! I look forward to continuing living a healthy lifestyle from here on out. Benjamin Button here I come!



The central focus of Communities for Health is to engage employees and their families into evidence based programs for chronic disease prevention and intervention. First, Communities for Health utilizes an approach that stratifies individuals for appropriate intervention based on their current health. Then, the program focuses more specifically on providing opportunities for participants to achieve sustainable change by offering a “plus one model” that allows employees to invite a colleague, family member, or friend to join them. This structure offers employees genuine support on their health journey and ultimately takes the organization’s wellness dollars’ impact deep into the community, providing access to programs and services not readily available to others. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently published, Building a Business-led Culture of Health and Food Security, featuring Communities for Health. Read the full case study.


 Sodexo USA is an American business that is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Delivering more than 100 services across North America that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life, Sodexo is a leading provider of sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations. It employs 123,000 Americans at 12,500 sites across the country and indirectly supports tens of thousands of additional U.S. jobs through its annual purchases of $9.2 billion in goods and services from small to large American businesses. In support of local communities across the U.S., the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has contributed close to $30 million over the past 20 years to help feed children in America impacted by hunger.

For more information about Core4, contact Jacquelyn Sharp at