Hi everyone! I’m Liz Young, one of Chartwells’ marketing interns. Last month, I was given the opportunity to visit the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Headquarters in Imokalee, Florida. On February 11th, I packed up my things and headed out to meet seven other Chartwells interns from across the U.S. with focuses in sustainability and marketing. I had no idea what this trip would entail, but it changed my perspective on a very important topic of human rights that I can’t wait to share with you.
To put things in perspective… Do you ever grocery shop at Walmart? Grab food from Taco Bell, McDonald’s or Chipotle? If you do, listen up! You’re apart of something bigger than what’s on your plate. Did you know that these places are partners with the Fair Food Program (FFP)?
Fair Food Program
So, what’s the FFP? The FFP (born in 2001) is a movement that brings human rights to the agricultural fields. This partnership between the world’s largest tomato buyers, farmers and farm workers establishes standards of humane working conditions and fair wages. It has made a huge impact on tomato farms all across Florida, as well as many other states on the east coast. The FFP holds their partnering farms and corporations accountable for unfair working conditions and provides practices of social responsibility. Some of the inequity that is happening on these farms are harassment, forced labor and unfair wage pay for farm workers. According to FFP’s Code of Conduct (http://www.fairfoodstandards.org/resources/fair-food-code-of-conduct/), a farm must follow the standards built on equality. The Code of Conduct and accountability from the Fair Food Council is truly what makes this movement stand out among the rest. Both, make sure that the partnering buyers are not just signing a piece of paper. They’re agreeing to pay a premium of an extra “penny per pound” for their tomatoes to support workers’ wages, provide on-the-field training, educate workers of their human rights through a video and brochure and last but not least, provide a place where workers feel safe to report offenses. The CIW is demanding change in the fields, and they’re taking action to establish fairness for every worker.
Since 2011, the FFP has partnered with 14 multi-billion dollar corporations, some including: Chartwells (Compass Group), Walmart, Taco Bell and McDonald’s. 90% of tomato farms in Florida partner with the FFP. Since the partnership, over $26 million dollars have been paid in premiums and 2,000 workers complaints have been resolved. The CIW has made large leaps in social responsibilities with tomato farms, but what about the farms growing all of the other produce on our plates or the other million dollar corporations selling our produce? This is where our voice and our time comes in.
My visit to the CIW Headquarters has sparked something inside of me. Since my return to campus, I have taken the initiative to educate the University of Arkansas community, and take pride in the fact that our campus dining (Chartwells) is supporting social responsibility. On the other hand, realizing that this is only the beginning of the movement. Right now, the FFP reaches select tomato farms in the east coast. Our generation is going to be the voice of change for farms across not only the east, but across the U.S.
Farmworker Awareness Week
Farmworker Awareness Week (March 24 – March 31) provides an opportunity for our campus, as well as other Chartwells’ campuses in the U.S. to honor the significant contributions of farmworkers, bring attention to exploitation and increase awareness of the FFP to extend its reach. During this week, our campus will be highlighting this initiative through social media trivia (March 25), tabling at Brough during Chef Night (March 27), hosting a special Teaching Kitchen involving tomatoes (March 28), giving away t-shirts and stickers and so much more. We’ll be using the hashtag #iCareAboutFair, and we want you to join in! For more information about how you can be involved and keep up with everything that’s going on, check out our social media @FoodontheHill. Help us change the lives of farm workers across America!