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One final, unforgettable moment from last week’s CGI meetings in New York…

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In CNN interview, President Clinton calls the Fair Food Program, “brilliant,” adds, “You’ve got a success model, and you ought to put the pedal to the metal…”

Last week’s ceremony at which the CIW was honored with the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award was a night that will not soon be forgotten.  But the three days that followed the award ceremony — the actual business end of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting — were every bit as exciting.  Here’s a thumbnail summary of the week from the Rev. Noelle Damico, a longtime CIW ally who witnessed the scene at the Times Square Sheraton firsthand:

The CIW’s model of worker-driven social responsibility, operational in the Fair Food Program, electrified not only the award ceremony but the entire conference. President Clinton described the CIW’s Fair Food Program as “the most astonishing thing politically happening in the world we’re living in today.”  The array of world leaders from business, government, the arts, foundations, and NGOs was astounding — and the excitement around the model was palpable from conversations in the hallway to tweets.  The CIW and the Fair Food Program were at the center of this incredible vortex of connection and conviction expressed during the CGI. 

cgi_joThe video at the top of this post conveys just how fully the CIW’s work captured the imaginations of those who attended the conference, from President Clinton himself on down.  The clip is an excerpt of a CNN town hall meeting filmed on the CGI’s  final day during which the Emmy Award-winning actress, anti-slavery activist, and former UN Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond (right, with microphone) asks a question from the audience of the panel headlined by President Clinton.  She begins by saying “This week we have been able to celebrate and watch the fantastic example of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ work where they have battled against enslavement in tomato picking supply chains in Florida,” and goes on to ask, “What is it the NGO community can do better, how can we do a better job, to enable companies to come on board and work with us?”

The former president then proceeded to discuss the CIW’s work for several minutes, complimenting Walmart for its participation in the Fair Food Program and making the case that, when “you put a cost on it, it then looks absurd to keep these people in indentured servitude for a penny a pound.”  He goes on to cite growing transparency as the key to the success of the Fair Food Program, adds that the Program “crosses otherwise impermeable political, psychological, and economic barriers,” and draws the comparison to what happened when the public learned of the horrific factory fires in Bangladesh.

Following President Clinton’s response, John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco, draws the connections between the situation of farmworkers in Florida and that of the workers who fuel the tech industry’s success overseas.  He finishes by committing to communicate with buyers who have yet to sign a Fair Food Agreement, an entirely unexpected development in the Campaign for Fair Food but typical of the kind of commitments that get made at CGI meetings every year.  

The entire exchange is truly remarkable and indicative of the kind of impact the Fair Food Program had on the debate at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.  Take five minutes and check out the full video, you’ll be glad you did!

Hot off the digital press: A social media round-up and a beautiful new image for 21st century food justice!

Clinton Global Citizen Award sparks surge of social media about @CIW and the #FairFoodProgram… Sunday’s Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony in New York was a truly unforgettable celebration of the remarkable progress achieved in Florida’s fields through the Fair Food Program.  Over 1,000 people squeezed into the Sheraton ballroom in Times Square for an evening line-up that included the Clinton family, Leonardo DiCaprio, Seth Myers, the Roots, Aloe Blacc, Natalie Merchant and hundreds of leading figures in the world working for social, economic, and environmental justice.  But as amazing as the scene was inside the room, the crowd outside was even more impressive.  So strong was […]

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President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor CIW with Global Citizen Award!

President Bill Clinton calls CIW’s Fair Food Program “the most astonishing thing politically happening in the world we’re living in today” On Sunday, September 21, 2014, President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) for “defending the human rights of farmworkers across the United States”. The Global Citizen Award was presented to the CIW by actress and activist Eva Longoria. The CIW received the Award alongside actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Atifete Jahjaga, the President of Kosovo. President Barack Obama will also speak at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. At the end […]

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The largest climate march in the history of the planet…

  CIW joins over 300,000 in People’s Climate March in advance of Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony… As we wait for tonight’s Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony to get underway, here is a quick dispatch from the streets of New York! This afternoon, over a dozen CIW members joined people from all over the globe — New York families, Superstorm Sandy survivors, indigenous groups, Chinese farmworkers, and everyone in between — in what is being called “the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet”  Organizers estimate that a record-breaking 310,000 individuals came out to join the People’s Climate March, […]

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Lost in the flood: Two great stories on the FFP get left behind in deluge of big news…

With all the recent news surrounding the Clinton Global Citizen Award and the fast-approaching release of “Food Chains,” some stories just get lost in the flood.  However, two such stories from recent days were too good leave behind forever, so we thought we’d take advantage of this brief break in the action to reach back a couple of weeks and share them with you today. First up is a beautifully written reflection by the Editor of the Sarasota Magazine that brought you last month’s must-read article, “Fairness in the Fields: A Sarasota Organization Brings Hope and Justice to Florida’s Tomato Fields”.  The Editor’s piece is […]

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From the director’s chair: An update on the film “Food Chains”…

  See how you can organize to bring the film to your city, school, or place of worship this fall! As many readers of this site already know, the documentary Food Chains, which chronicles the CIW’s battle for Fair Food and the issue of farm labor exploitation around the country, will be opening in theaters nationwide on November 21st.  What does that mean, exactly?  Will you be able to go to your local cineplex to see Food Chains?  Will it be available on cable and iTunes and other digital media? We asked Food Chains director Sanjay Rawal to give us a brief […]

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Clinton Global Citizen award makes the headlines…

From Food Chains director Sanjay Rawal, in the Ft. Myers News-Press: “It begs this question of companies like Publix, Ahold, Kroger and Wendy’s: When hundreds of CEOs, heads of state and thought leaders are gathered to [honor the CIW and the Fair Food Program], why are you so stubbornly against progress in America’s fields?” News of the Clinton Global Initiative’s selection of the CIW to receive the 2014 Global Citizen Award — to be presented this coming Sunday at a gala ceremony in New York City — made the headlines far and wide this past weekend.  Media outlets from the Hollywood […]

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BREAKING: CIW to receive 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award!

Clintons to honor CIW for groundbreaking impact of Fair Food Program at gala award ceremony in New York City on September 21… The news was announced on the Clinton Global Initiative website Thursday afternoon: Clinton Global Citizen Awards Established in 2007, the Clinton Global Citizen Awards embody President Bill Clinton’s call to action by honoring outstanding individuals who exemplify global citizenship through their vision and leadership. These citizens have proven that diverse sectors of society can work together successfully to devise solutions that effect positive, lasting social change. Nominated by Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) members and other global leaders, honorees are […]

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“I believe that we will win!” Youth gather in Immokalee for 2014 Encuentro…

  Boot the Braids, Food Chains documentary make #Encuentro2014 a smashing success… This past weekend, 70 students and youth from across the United States rolled into Immokalee for the Student / Farmworker Alliance’s annual Encuentro.  As always, these young leaders came to learn about the fifteen-year history of students and youth taking action with Florida farmworkers, and to write their own chapter in that extraordinary history by laying the groundwork for the season to come in the Campaign for Fair Food. Throughout the weekend, SFA’s core Fair Food activists dove headfirst into workshops, discussion groups, strategy sessions, and even a CIW theater piece, […]

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Better late than never… A Labor Day action report from the Publix AND Wendy’s fronts!

After a relatively quiet summer — punctuated, of course, by some great protests around the country — the Fair Food Nation marked the end of the season with two gorgeous, creative actions for Labor Day (yes, we know Labor Day was last weekend, but we had a busy week this past week!).  Instead of heading to the beach, farmworkers and allies packed their cars with brightly colored artwork and bullhorns, determined to celebrate the true meaning of Labor Day by recognizing the invaluable contribution of the men and women who work hard every day to put food on our tables.  Here in Florida, they gathered in Tampa for a […]

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Entertainment Weekly gives “Food Chains” a plug, runs exciting new trailer!

  Countdown begins to big Thanksgiving Week release… Entertainment Weekly ran a piece yesterday in its “Inside Movies” column plugging the documentary “Food Chains” — the film featuring the Campaign for Fair Food as a long-sought solution to the exploitation and abuse of this country’s farmworkers — highlighting the stars who contributed to the film, and reminding readers of its fast-approaching Thanksgiving Week release date.   Here’s the report, entitled “Eva Longoria explores ‘Food Chains’ in new documentary from ‘Fast Food Nation’ writer,”: As executive producer Eva Longoria points out in her new documentary Food Chains, the hands that sort much […]

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Gone, but never to be forgotten…

Bishop John Nevins has passed away, but his commitment to social justice and to the struggle of farmworkers in Immokalee will stand as an example for religious leaders for generations to come.   He marched with us. He called on growers to join in dialogue with us. He called on corporations to sign Fair Food agreements with us. And when six CIW members broke their 30-day hunger strike in 1997, he held a mass in Naples to celebrate their courageous stand and broke the fast with us. The first food the hunger strikers ate after 30 days was the host […]

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The spotlight shines on the Fair Food Standards Council in must-read piece in Sarasota Magazine!

photos: Sarasota Magazine Beau McHan, Harvest Manager, Pacific Tomato Growers on the FFSC auditors: “They’re extremely thorough.  Other auditors or inspectors might just poke their heads in, but these guys talk to pretty much every worker. Then they check their records with our office.” In a must-read, well-written, wide-ranging article published in this month’s issue of Sarasota Magazine, entitled “Fairness in the Fields: A Sarasota Organization Brings Hope and Justice to Florida’s Tomato Fields,” freelance journalist Philippe Diederich takes a close look at the Fair Food Standards Council, the third party monitoring body for the Fair Food Program, and comes away impressed. […]

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Boot the Braids!… Student-led Wendy’s campaign set to hit the road running this coming school year!

With the annual Student/Farmworker Alliance “Encuentro” just around the corner, student and youth leaders of the Fair Food Nation train their sights on Wendy’s with an echo of the seminal “Boot the Bell” campus-based movement…  It’s that time of year again, as the first cool breezes of fall break months of summer heat and students across the country prepare for the new school year ahead.  Of course, in Immokalee, preparing for the new school year can only mean one thing: the Student/Farmworker Alliance Encuentro is coming!  Every year at this time, dozens of students and young people from New York […]

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Ohio Freedom School scholars take up the Fair Food banner!

40+ youth march through streets of Columbus to local Wendy’s, are barred from entering store… From the Tour de Fair Food in Denver earlier this month to July’s convergence of young food justice leaders in Albuquerque, young consumers across the country have taken to the streets this summer to send a message to Wendy’s: We care about poverty and exploitation behind the food we eat, and we won’t eat at Wendy’s until the hamburger giant does its part to support the CIW’s Fair Food Program. Not to be outdone, a group of young people in Columbus, Ohio, brought their own creativity and energy to the Campaign for Fair Food last month, and from the […]

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Northern sojourn builds CIW bonds with Maine small farmers, Vermont dairy workers…

Visit carves out paths for expansion of Fair Food principles on two new fronts! Maine has been dubbed “The Vacation State,” and with good reason.  During at least one month of the year, there is probably nowhere in this country more beautiful than Maine, with its abundant fresh water ponds and lakes perfect for swimming, miles and miles of dramatic coastline, sprawling old growth forests, and rolling landscape of wild blueberry-covered hills dotted with ancient boulders. So leave it to the CIW to turn a visit to Maine in August into a work trip…  During a six-day sojourn in Maine and Vermont […]

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