Largest screening yet! 300 attend Burlington screening of “Food Chains”…

[hupso title=”Largest screening yet! 300 attend Burlington screening of @FoodChainsFilm… @MigrantJustice” url=”http://ciw-online.org/blog/2015/04/burlington-food-chains/”]

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300 in the audience at the University of Vermont for the “Food Chains” screening on April 1st

 

Green Mountain State ripe for Fair Food, shows swell of support for CIW and local dairy workers…

In honor of Farmworker Awareness Week at the end of last month, the intrepid “Food Chains” team planned sixty screenings across the country, bringing the story of the CIW to campuses, churches and theaters from coast to coast.  In sweeping across the nation with this newest tour, receiving a nomination for the prestigious James Beard Award, and topping the charts on iTunes, the documentary has become one of the Campaign for Fair Food’s key ambassadors this spring, recruiting new waves of Fair Food supporters every week.

And nowhere did that growing support for farmworkers’ human rights take root more deeply last month than the (just now thawing) city of Burlington, Vermont!  And so we bring you a quick report from what is surely one of the largest “Food Chains” screenings to date.

Ahead of the April 1st event, the Burlington Free Press published this open invitation to the screening from Shelburne Farms’ Vera Chang:

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Opinion: Justice for farmworkers

Even though National Farmworker Awareness Week is coming to a close, the urgent need for broader public conversation around farmworkers’ rights in the United States continues. On Wednesday, there will be a panel discussion and film screening of the award-winning documentary Food Chains in Burlington.

Here’s why we need you:

Food Chains is about the inspiring struggle and triumphs of the CIW, the farmworker-led human rights organization in Immokalee, Fla. To date, the CIW has signed on 13 major tomato retailers — from Walmart to Trader Joe’s — onto its ingenious Fair Food Program, which improves working conditions for tomato pickers.  Since the 1990’s, the CIW has helped liberate more than 1,200 workers held against their will, and for their efforts they were recently awarded the 2015 Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts Combating Modern-Day Slavery.  A James Beard award nominee for best documentary, the film is beautifully executed and well told, with executive producers Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser at the helm.

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Its story is about tomatoes in Florida — but it is also about us. Anyone who has eaten a domestically-produced winter tomato (and I’m not talking about ones from Long Wind Farm or other local greenhouses) has eaten food picked by a farmworker in Immokalee. Although the CIW has won inspiring victories for improved farmworker conditions in Florida, the expansion of these unprecedented changes to more industries and regions rests on our actions…  read more

Needless to say, the good residents of Burlington responded to the call, filling the University of Vermont’s campus theater with over 300 students, farmers, and food system activists.  

Following the screening, the audience was in for an inspiring discussion about how they could take action — both nationally, in the Campaign for Fair Food, and right in their hometown.  The post-film panel was moderated by renowned author, “Food Chains” producer and longtime CIW friend, Barry Estabrook, and also brought the CIW together with Migrant Justice, a vibrant human rights organization of migrant workers determined to bring fairness to Vermont’s dairy industry.  In addition to getting the latest updates on the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food, Vermonters heard about Migrant Justice’s brand-new Milk with Dignity Campaign, which seeks to ensure that Vermont milk is produced with the same integrity and respect for workers’ human rights as Florida tomatoes are today under the Fair Food Program.  And there is little doubt that the audience took the call to action to heart, as many of the attendees headed out for a Wendy’s protest the very next day!  (Make sure to check out the photos from the action on Migrant Justice’s Facebook page)

In the end, the CIW’s trip to Vermont went beyond the screening of “Food Chains” — it was also another exciting step forward in our growing collaboration with Migrant Justice, whose members had only just left Florida after helping out in the lead up to March’s beautiful Parade and Concert for Fair Food.  We look forward to continuing to build an even deeper relationship between farmworkers in Florida and Vermont, grounded in the shared commitment to expanding real, tangible respect for workers’ human rights far beyond the Florida tomato fields.   

On that note, we want to leave you with a brief but powerful reflection from Migrant Justice member Lupita Gomez after last month’s major action in St. Petersburg:

“I was so inspired by the deep commitment of CIW farmworker members and energized by their powerful women leaders.  I have renewed my commitment to dedicate myself to organize my community to win the Milk with Dignity Campaign in Vermont.  We are going to need everyone to build a huge movement like this to win!  Join us!”

Thelma "Lupita" Gomez from Migrant Justice (bottom right) leading the way in March's Parade for Fair Food in St. Petersburg, FL
Thelma “Lupita” Gomez from Migrant Justice (bottom center) leading the way in the Parade for Fair Food in St. Petersburg, FL