Fair Food Program “good for business…”

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Media round-up highlights Fair Food Nation’s remarkable progress in first months of 2014…

In January, Walmart signed a Fair Food agreement, adding the world’s largest retailer to the growing list of food giants supporting the Fair Food Program.  

In February, the documentary “Food Chains” premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, introducing Europe to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and to the two-decade long fight for Fair Food.  

In March, the national Now is the Time Tour rocked ten cities in ten days, with massive actions at the top and bottom of the tour, in Dublin, Ohio, and Lakeland, Florida.  

And in April, Del Monte Fresh Produce joined 90% of the Florida tomato industry in the Fair Food Program, thereby expanding the protections of the country’s most effective human rights program for farmworkers to thousands of new farm labor jobs across the state.  

With the star of the Fair Food Program steadily on the rise, it is no surprise that, from time to time, we have to play catch-up just to keep up with the media coverage!  So, without further ado, we present the very latest Fair Food Program media round-up:

First up, after debuting in the national industry publication The Packer, the news that Del Monte Fresh Produce joined the FFP continued to ripple through the produce industry.  Here is a brief excerpt from the online forum Fresh Fruit Portal, which covered the momentous news in a remarkably detailed article titled “Del Monte deal shows fair food is good business, says Reyes”:

A subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce (NYSE: FDP) recently signed up to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) fair food program, but what does that actually mean?  CIW staff member Gerardo Reyes explains a system that is protecting Florida tomato workers’ rights like never before, and which may expand into new crops and states. [...]


[...] “The investment that Del Monte is bringing to the tomato industry is something that we welcome because it opens many working positions, and to look at it more deeply, it shows that companies that weren’t previously in this part of the U.S. or part of this particular industry, are betting on this system,” Reyes says.

“They’re showing their confidence that there is a future of the tomato industry in the state.  They’re bringing thousands of new jobs to the state, injecting much energy into the Florida economy.

“There is clear evidence that the fair food program is not just something good for the workers, but it is good business in itself.”

In a release, Del Monte’s vice president of North American operations, Paul Rice, said the move shows its commitment improve the lives of workers in Florida fields and to the Florida tomato industry as a whole.

“We are pleased to join the Fair Food Program and continue our commitment to strong ethical sourcing standards which ensures that the products we sell are produced in a way that provides fair treatment for the workers in our supply chain,” Rice said in a release.  read more

Meanwhile, the monthly journal Labor Notes published a similarly detailed look at the unique mechanisms that make the Fair Food Program tick in the profile piece, “Florida Farmworkers Score Surprise Walmart Agreement”.  Although it is certainly worth checking out the article in its entirety, here are just a few highlights:

Labor_notes_thumbFlorida Farmworkers Score Surprise Walmart Agreement

[...] Now CIW trainers educate workers about their rights, on company property and company time.  Each farm has to adhere to CIW’s Fair Food Code of Conduct if it wants to sell tomatoes to the big brands that have signed on.

The program’s enforcement arm, the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC), has eight full-time investigators, but the program doesn’t rely on them to be eyes and ears of the code, said Asbed. The goal is to make all 30,000 Florida tomato workers into monitors, watching for violations and human rights abuses. [...]


CIW estimates that more than 14,000 workers, nearly half the tomato workers in Florida, have been through its trainings, led by farmworkers. Workers hear their rights under the Code, and learn that if they are retaliated against for speaking out, the grower can be kicked out of the program, losing important customers as a result.

All workers get a booklet in their mother tongue, listing their rights and responsibilities. There are videos for those who don’t read, with CIW members acting out scenarios. Growers must distribute the booklets along with a confidential complaint phone number, which also appears on pay stubs.

In addition to taking complaint calls, the FFSC conducts audits, interviews managers and supervisors, and talks to workers. Inspectors ride the buses, go to workers’ housing, and make announced and unannounced visits.

Workers have used the number to lodge 450 complaints since 2011 when the hotline was set up. The most frequent is supervisors requiring workers to overfill buckets, called “cupping,” which is prohibited by the Fair Food Code. Other complaints involve health and safety, retaliation, and sexual harassment… read more

Finally, the recent narrative film chronicling the life of Cesar Chavez — which also debuted alongside the documentary “Food Chains” in Berlin — has sparked a wave of conversation in the public square about farmworker organizing and Chavez’s legacy, and the new forms that legacy has taken in the world of agriculture today.  ABC News covered the new film in-depth in a piece titled “50 Years Later, ‘Chavez’ Film Shows Farmworker’s Plight Remains” – and in their analysis, ABC ended on a positive note, highlighting the current-day promise of the Fair Food Program:

“Cesar Chavez represents a fight for social justice and for human dignity and he’s the epitome of the American spirit, that we have the power to create the world we want to live in,” said America Ferrera, who stars in the film.

[...] “To be a consumer is a responsibility. And we keep living as if food appears magically in the store, you know? And, we don’t ask ourselves ‘What needed to happen for this to get in front of me?’” [Diego Luna] added.


But advocates say there is something that you as a consumer can do: a campaign called the “Fair Food Program.”

Created in 2001, the program asks grocery stores and fast food restaurants to pay just one penny more per pound of Florida tomatoes. That money goes directly into the farmworkers’ pockets, making a substantial difference on farmworkers’ wages in Florida… read more

And that’s a wrap for today’s media round up.  Check back soon for the rest of April’s sure-to-be-thrilling high notes, from the US premiere of “Food Chains” at the Tribeca Film Festival to the CIW’s trip to Amsterdam for the annual Ahold Shareholder meeting!

Del Monte Fresh Produce joins Fair Food Program!

Fair Food Program, Florida tomato industry continue to grow… together. From the national produce industry journal The Packer (“Del Monte inks deal with Coalition of Immokalee Workers,” 4/8/14): Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., is the latest Florida-based grower-shipper to strike a deal with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. In an April 8 news release, the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., announced one of its subsidiaries, Del Monte Fresh Production Inc., has agreed to the Immokalee, Fla.-based workers organization’s terms. Del Monte joins the CIW and many of the largest U.S. retailers and restaurant chains that participate in the […]

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Why does the US Chamber of Commerce hate America? (apologies to Stephen Colbert…)

If the Fair Food Program is good for Florida tomato growers, good for American food corporations, and good for American workers, why has the Chamber of Commerce teamed up with other Washington lobbying groups to attack the CIW? In Part One of this two-part series, we established the business argument for the Fair Food Program: In summary, in the space of a few short years since that “watershed moment” in 2010, the Florida tomato industry has undergone an unprecedented transformation, a metamorphosis that, in the words of Barry Estabrook in 2011, took it from being ”one of the most repressive employers in the country… to being […]

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Part One: “The New Day is not something that’s going to happen, the New Day is happening right now”…

  Since 2010, a metamorphosis has been underway in the Florida tomato industry, while in Mexico the industry’s counterpart has only sunk deeper into a morass of violence, corruption, poverty, and exploitation… The quotation at the top of this post came from the Rev. Roy Terry of the United Methodist Church of Naples.  Rev. Terry spoke those words during a candlelight vigil held at the Duke University Chapel as part of last month’s Now Is the Time Tour.  The vigil was captured beautifully in the simple but moving video above.  It bears watching before reading on, if you haven’t already. […]

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Extreme Makeover: Florida tomato industry edition…

In the space of just a few years, the CIW’s Fair Food Program has transformed the Florida tomato industry and created a “model” for the protection of human rights in global supply chains “elsewhere in the world.” How could something so good for business make the US Chamber of Commerce so mad?  A reflection in two parts… Introduction In January of this year, the CIW signed its twelfth Fair Food agreement with a multi-billion dollar food industry leader, this time with the multi-billion-dollar-est of them all, Walmart. Walmart representatives John Amaya (left), Tom Leech (center) and CIW’s Lucas Benitez, Gerardo Reyes […]

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The Nation: “Why are students protesting Wendy’s and Publix?”…

Answers to that question and more, with all the latest press from the Fair Food front! Even as we gear up for what is sure to be an exciting April — the month ahead is already overflowing with events, including the recently-announced screening of “Food Chains” at Tribeca, the CIW’s visit to Amsterdam to participate in Ahold’s annual shareholder meeting (last year’s visit provided us with this memorable reflection), and a trip to the University of California at Berkeley to take part in Michael Pollan’s popular lecture series there, among many other things — we don’t want to ignore the press that continues […]

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Tribeca Film Festival makes “Food Chains” an official selection with screening set for April 26th in NYC!

Film also premiered in Mexico this past Sunday at Guadalajara Film Festival to packed house, huge press conference (pictured below), and wildly positive audience reaction! It has been a busy week for the farm labor documentary “Food Chains.” Fresh off its successful world premier at the Berlin Film Festival, “Food Chains” was named an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival last Monday and then turned around and took the Guadalajara International Film Festival by storm this past weekend!   To top off its great week, the film was also included in the prestigious “Tribeca Talks” series of panel discussions […]

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Hundreds of Walk Free members call Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick in wake of big Dublin march!

  Callers demand farm labor justice from Wendy’s CEO who helped get the Fair Food ball rolling back in 2005 at Taco Bell… Walk Free, the international anti-slavery organization that earlier this year raised over 400,000 emails to Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw calling on Publix to support the Fair Food Program, has turned its attention to Wendy’s.  Hot on the heels of last week’s big march on Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, scores of Walk Free members picked up the phone and called Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick to demand Fair Food from the fast-food leader. Walk Free sent along some of the […]

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Media Round-up… Now Is the Time Tour all over the news!

Publix, Wendy’s stand against historic changes in the fields draws attention from state, national, campus and faith press! On Monday, we told our own story of the exciting 10-day, 10-city Now Is the Time Tour, reporting on the huge final march through Lakeland and looking back at the tour as a whole and the roots of Publix’s unconscionable stance against progress in Florida’s fields.   Today we wanted to bring you links and excerpts from all the media reports on the tour that have come out since our last media round-up, including stories in state and national press as well […]

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“Publix must turn from its pride and arrogance and turn towards its partners in business, the workers from Immokalee…”

24-hr vigil at Publix ends with march of 1,000 through downtown Lakeland!   The 10-day, 10-city Now Is the Time Tour ended Saturday with a massive march through the heart of Lakeland, Florida.  Responding to the marchers’ infectious high spirits and passionate call for human rights in Florida’s fields, the townspeople embraced the march with honks, waves, and thumbs-up, leaning out car windows and pouring out of homes and businesses along the three-mile route.  Lakeland’s response sent a clear signal that, even in Publix’s hometown, the grocery giant’s stubborn stonewalling of the Fair Food Program is growing increasingly unpopular and […]

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The vigil begins: 24 hours for Fair Food…

After nine days on the road, the Now Is The Time Tour reaches Lakeland, settles in for 24-hour vigil! Note from the media team: What follows is a quick dispatch from the front recapping yesterday’s action at the all-night vigil outside the Southgate Publix in Lakeland, Fl.  After a long night for the documentation crew, our offering today will be a little thinner than usual, a sort of series of postcards from the first day of the vigil, with more to come tomorrow after today’s action has wrapped up (there is, at least, a very fine video included toward the […]

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“Whether it’s two or two hundred, I’ll participate in every march until we win!”

Joined by students from the River City Science Academy and Jacksonvillians for Fair Food, CIW tour crew leads a march of 200+ from Wendy’s to Publix down busy Jacksonville streets… Yesterday in Jacksonville was about hope. Hope for the future, delivered on the shouts and cheers of 150 of the smartest, sweetest, most enthusiastic high school students (not to mention their teachers!) you could ever hope to meet. Hope for justice in Florida’s fields, because when the next generation of consumers feels so strongly about justice and human rights for all — and is so willing to explore and engage […]

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Atlanta takes up the Fair Food banner!

Tour crew arrives in Atlanta, visits Carter Center and King Center, joins with 100+ Atlantans to tell Publix “tomato workers deserve justice!” Extreme wind and cold pose a challenge to nighttime candlelight vigil, but protesters persevere, sending powerful message of solidarity in heart of Publix’s expanding southeastern market… Day 8 was a day full of travel, education, and action.   Following a morning spent driving from Nashville to Atlanta, Wednesday afternoon’s tight schedule packed in visits to two national museums honoring Atlanta’s dual Nobel Laureates and ended with a vibrant — and soulful, thanks to another stellar performance by Atlanta’s incomparable […]

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“This ain’t a protest, this is a celebration…”

“Human rights have arrived in Florida’s fields, and Publix, you are late to the party!” | Nashville News, Weather Those are the words of Pedro Lopez (below, right) – jaranero extraordinaire and the CIW’s most trusted emcee for tours, fasts, and marches since anyone can remember — at the rally yesterday outside a Nashville, TN, Publix, as nearly 200 people gathered following a 3-mile march through the city that once again put smiles on the faces of countless Nashville residents and reminded Publix of the remarkable transformation taking place in Florida’s fields on which it has turned its back.   […]

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You CAN go home again…

CIW returns to Louisville, the birthplace of Fair Food, to visit with dear old friends and rekindle powerful alliances for the Wendy’s campaign! In March, 2005, Taco Bell’s parent company Yum Brands, based in Louisville, KY, signed the first-ever Fair Food agreement with the CIW after four long years of boycott.  During those four years, we built deep and lasting friendships with many, many residents of Louisville, people with an abiding belief in justice, in human rights, and in the faith that we can, through our concerted efforts, build a better, more humane world.   But the Campaign for Fair […]

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“Mr. Brolick, we are here to invite you to finish what you helped start…”

750+ march on Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, as Now Is the Time Tour lets Wendy’s know Ohio is Fair Food Territory!  On a bracingly cold but brilliant day in Dublin, Ohio, over 750 marchers — including farmworkers from Immokalee, allies from around the northeast and midwest, and, most importantly, hundreds of Ohioans — declared Ohio a Fair Food state with an epic march on Wendy’s corporate headquarters that won the hearts of the people of Dublin with its irrepressible exuberance, remarkable diversity, and urgent message of justice.    Rippling with colorful art, the march wound its way through Dublin’s streets, […]

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