Newest Fair Food Program participating grower, Smoky Mountain Family Farms, expands operations in Tennessee, expanding the groundbreaking protections of the Fair Food Program to hundreds of new workers in the process...

PLUS: CIW holds inaugural education session with Bloomia workers in Virginia!   

Bloomia Health and Safety Manager, Soraya Buckner, introducing the FFP Education Team: "This is a special group of people, who are here willing to share their experience and knowledge about how to increase human dignity and respect in the work environment, to help us understand our rights as human beings and as workers."

Despite all the travails of 2020 (and now, 2021...), one of the rare bright spots of the past year has been the steady expansion of the Fair Food Program to new states and new industries.  For the women and men laboring on new Fair Food Program farms, whether they are harvesting tomatoes or tending tulips, the FFP ushers in a new era in which workers are equipped with a deep understanding of their rights on the job, the tools to report abuses when they take place, and most importantly, the power to ensure those rights are made real every day.  That heartening expansion of human rights in the fields continued apace last month with the news that Smoky Mountain Farms, one of the Fair Food Program's newest partners, announced a major acquisition in Tennessee and has proudly committed to expanding the groundbreaking protections of the Fair Food Program to hundreds of new workers in the process.  Here is an excerpt of the story from the industry news hub, The Packer

Smoky Mountain Family Farms announces expansion plan, acquisition 

Tennessee-based Smoky Mountain Family Farms, a partnership between the Pappas, Esformes and Hellers tomato farming and distribution families has announced the purchase of Midway, Tenn.-based Triple C Family Farms. 

Smoky Mountain Family Farms is the first and only Tennessee farm to be certified by the Fair Food Program in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, according to a news release. The acquisition by Smoky Mountain Family Farms includes an expansion of the programs reach for fair treatment of farm workers into Tennessee...

...With the acquisition, production of Smoky Mountain Family Farms will triple in 2021, the release said.

As readers of this site will remember, within a month of the announcement of Smoky Mountain Family Farms joining the Program, we also announced the expansion of the Fair Food Program into the cut flower industry, bringing the largest East Coast flower company, Bloomia, into the Fair Food fold.  Last month, the CIW's education team hit the road north for the inaugural round of education for tulip workers in Virginia.  Over the course of three days, Bloomia workers took the CIW staff on a deep-dive tour of the careful labor that goes into growing some of the world's most delicate blooms, from bulb to box.  In turn, CIW conducted extended, interactive education sessions with the program's newest workers, fielding questions about the FFP and the new protections that Bloomia workers now enjoy. 

As she introduced the education session, Soraya Buckner, the company's new Health and Safety Manager, reflected the company's embrace of the Fair Food Program and pride in being the first cut flower company to join:

“This is a special group of people, who are here willing to share their experience and knowledge about how to increase human dignity and respect in the work environment, to help us understand our rights as human beings and as workers.  This group is part of the Fair Food Program and the CIW.  I invite you all to take this opportunity to listen, to learn, to ask, to participate in this conversation.  This is a space provided by Bloomia and the Fair Food Program to speak and share.  [The FFP] is more than a bonus on a check.  It’s much more than that.  Because this bonus is a result of a lot of work done by this group of people who are looking for more dignity and fairness in the work environment.  It is a group of people who also want the problems or difficulties that we may have to be an opportunity to learn, and to resolve conflicts as civilized human beings.”

We know that a picture is worth a thousand words and can best convey the beauty of this unique crop and how it is grown and harvested (not to mention the energy and excitement in the room for the education session itself), so click through below to see a slideshow of photos of the inaugural CIW education team experience from the first of many years of partnership with Bloomia!

See the photos!





Investors rise up: Responsible investors “representing $1 trillion dollars in assets under management urge Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program”!

April 16, 2021

Over 100 responsible investors sign letter to Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz: “In closing, given the FFP’s unparalleled success, its adoption by Wendy’s main competitors, and the seriousness of the human rights risks in U.S. agriculture – especially in light of COVID-19, and at a time of global reckoning over racial justice – we believe it is incumbent upon the company to join the FFP.” PLUS: Six State Treasurers send their own letter to Wendy’s Peltz: “With the dire consequences of COVID-19 and of systemic racism on our minds, we the undersigned State Treasurers urge Wendy’s to join the Fair Food […]

“Wendy’s ignores essential farmworkers” Week of Action reverberates throughout the Fair Food Nation!

April 14, 2021

Fair Food allies in over two dozen cities — from San Francisco, California to Essex, Vermont — bring the fight for farmworker justice directly to Wendy’s restaurants and top business partners!    What a whirlwind week for the Fair Food movement!  As thousands of farmworkers received their COVID-19 vaccine last week in Immokalee — after months of advocacy for an equitable vaccine rollout for essential agricultural workers by the CIW, Alliance for Fair Food, Partners In Health and the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida — hundreds of Fair Food allies took to the streets in cities across the country to make […]

This is what vaccine equity looks like!…

April 12, 2021

CIW’s Nely Rodriguez: “After months of calling for vaccine access for farmworkers… thousands of workers and other Immokalee neighbors lined up hundreds at a time to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a major victory in the battle against the pandemic and in our ongoing efforts to protect the lives of essential workers.” Late last month, the CIW — joined by the Health Care Network and Partners in Health, our partners in the fight against COVID-19 in Florida’s essential farmworker communities — took to the opinion pages of the Naples Daily News and Ft. Myers News-Press to call attention to the urgent need […]

TODAY: Call Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor and demand Wendy’s join the Fair Food Program!

April 8, 2021

Make your voice heard by calling Wendy’s corporate headquarters at 614-764-3100 to demand respect for farmworkers’ health and safety! The “Demanding Dignity for Farmworkers” Week of Action is underway and off to a great start, with action reports from across the country already rolling in.  With over two dozen actions on the map, the Fair Food Nation is making a statement, loud and clear: Not even a pandemic can dampen consumer demand for the protection of essential workers’ fundamental human rights!   Getting a head start on the Week of Action, the fierce young organizers of Movimiento Activista Social at the […]

MAY DAY CONCERT ANNOUNCED: Tom Morello, Olmeca and more to join call to Boycott Wendy’s!

April 5, 2021

“Demanding Dignity for Farmworkers” Week of Action kicks off today with many opportunities to take action – both in-person and online! – in the Wendy’s Boycott!…  PLUS: SAVE THE DATE for an inspiring virtual May Day Concert to honor essential workers featuring world-renowned artists and stalwart Fair Food supporters Tom Morello, Olmeca, and more!  Last month, we announced this week’s “Demanding Dignity for Farmworkers” National Week of Action calling on Wendy’s to stop undercutting the health and dignity of essential workers in the fields, and to commit to farmworkers’ human rights once and for all by joining the Fair Food […]

Wendy’s Shareholder Resolution News, Part One: Resolution calling for documentation of Wendy’s claims of social responsibility gaining real momentum ahead annual meeting…

March 31, 2021

2021 shareholder resolution seeks facts on whether, and how, Wendy’s enforces its Supplier Code of Conduct… Financial Times: Responsible investment organization ShareAction calls Wendy’s shareholder resolution a “high quality, high impact” proposal, one of “13 most important ESG resolutions” of 2021… Acting Chair of SEC: “This last year has helped to clarify why the perceived barrier between social value and market value is breaking down… Human capital, human rights, climate change – these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues.” This spring, Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting will not be […]

Podcast Recap: “Reimagining Grocery”, from Food + Tech Connect…

March 26, 2021

“The power of the purchasing order” to protect workers and prevent human rights violations in retail food brands’ supply chains takes center stage in dynamic panel discussion… In early February, the CIW’s Gerardo Reyes and Greg Asbed joined a panel convened by Food+Tech Connect, a leader in the growing “good food innovation movement,” to explore the role and responsibility of grocery retailers in protecting farmworkers’ fundamental human rights in the fields where they buy their produce through their purchasing decisions.  Here below is the video of the hour-long podcast in full, followed by a brief summary of some of the […]

CBS News, Politico raise the alarm about vaccination efforts leaving farmworkers behind…

March 23, 2021

Florida Agricultural Commissioner: “I’ve asked [FL Governor Ron DeSantis] since December to make farmworkers among those eligible next for vaccines, which he refused to do… The lack of empathy and concern for the working people who put food on our tables is appalling.” As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year — its death toll continuing to rise, claiming the lives of well over half a million mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and cousins — an end to the national nightmare remains frustratingly just out of sight.  With new variants spreading, and many states loosening already-poorly-enforced public health […]

“The contract at the heart of our community is founded on trust”…

March 18, 2021

Sheriff Rambosk’s words, actions erode the trust essential to effective policing in Immokalee; The time to rebuild public trust, and reform policing in Immokalee’s farmworker community, is now. In 1987, police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, responding to a call of a man threatening people with a knife, shot a young Black man to death.  The victim had a history of mental illness, and his tragic and preventable killing shocked the community and threatened to fracture the city in protest.  But instead of provoking the familiar spiral of conflict and division, the young man’s death prompted the Mayor of Memphis to […]

Open letter from Nicolas Morales Jr., 13: “I Demand Justice for My Dad.”

March 15, 2021

“Ever since that day I have been sad, lonely, angry, and grieving the loss of my dad.  There is not one day I don’t think about him and wish things could’ve been done differently to still have my dad here… It has torn my life apart.” Since we first called for transparency and accountability for the killing of Nicolas Morales, we’ve heard from people across the country who are outraged at his horrific death at the hands of Collier County Sheriff’s deputies.  Our community has welcomed a chorus of allied voices, from faith leaders, to civil rights advocates, to student […]