Fair Food movement gains key new ally in campaign to demand respect for human rights in Publix supply chain!

International anti-slavery champion Walk Free to mobilize network of 2 million activists, call on Publix to “join the Fair Food Program and ensure our tomatoes meet the highest human rights standards in the food industry.”

The Fair Food Program has been winning the attention of more and more advocates for fundamental human rights these days, and this past week another international human rights organization has stepped into the ring to help press Publix to do the right thing and join the Fair Food Program.

Walk Free, the “movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: modern slavery,” has pledged to mobilize its network of 2 million human rights activists to join the fight and help expand the program the White House called, “one of the most successful and innovative programs” in the world today for the prevention of modern-day slavery, the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

Toward that end, Walk Free has launched an e-petition to Publix CEO William Crenshaw. The petition begins by introducing the Fair Food Program as “a new solution” to Florida’s history of farm labor abuse that “has proven successful.” Then it moves on to Publix:

“… But a major U.S. supermarket chain, Publix Super Markets, is refusing to support the Fair Food Program. Publix continues to buy tomatoes from growers that are not partners of the Fair Food Program and where workers still toil beyond the reach of its proven protection from modern slavery.

Will Publix Super Markets, which prides itself on making Fortune’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list, continue to turn a blind eye and give excuses, or will it leverage its vast market influence and lead the way in cleaning up slavery in the tomato supply chain once and for all?

Tell Publix to make the right decision to join the Fair Food Program and ensure our tomatoes meet the highest human rights standards in the food industry today.” read more

You can sign the petition today by clicking here. We look forward to working with Walk Free and its growing army of activists in the weeks and months ahead as this important new front in the Campaign for Fair Food continues to develop.

Quick media update…

There has been a lot happening in the Fair Food world of late, and so some things, like some really wonderful articles from the past few weeks, get lost in the shuffle.

The first piece we want to be sure to bring to your attention is an op/ed by the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Bishop John Noonan, entitled “Program Transforms Food Industry” (4/29/13). Published in Publix’s hometown newspaper, the Lakeland Ledger, the article has caused quite a ripple in the community that Publix executives call home. It too begins by recounting the widely-acclaimed success of the Fair Food Program:

“… Thanks to the Fair Food Program, our brothers and sisters in Christ who labor in the fields of our Lord are living a new day of dignity and human rights.

For the first time, farmworkers are ensured shade, water and adequate breaks while working under the intense sun. They can report physical, sexual and verbal abuse without fear of retaliation or being fired.” read more

And then goes on to question Publix’s resistance to the Program, concluding with an interesting invitation:

“…I am disappointed that Publix, a much-loved, generous company, has not yet agreed to meet with me regarding the Fair Food Program and the company’s possible involvement.The Fair Food Program is transforming an industry once racked with abuse into one in which the dignity God bestows upon each human being is honored and respected.

I pray that God will inspire the leaders of Publix to meet with me for further discussion and the involvement of Publix with the Fair Food Program, a human rights partnership that is working to promote the dignity and just treatment of our sisters and brothers whose hands harvest the food we consume in a country of bounty.” read more

As far as we know, that invitation has yet to be answered.

A second piece, which was published just last week in the popular internet news reader truthout.org, is a great read, too, that ends on a particularly poetic quotation by the CIW’s Gerardo Reyes (“A Penny a Pound, Plus Power: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers Changes History,” truthout.org, 5/12/13):

“… We hope to see a day in which, when one says ‘farmworker,’ the word won’t be associated with powerlessness, voicelessness, inability to define one’s own destiny. Our dream is that when consumers think of who farmworkers are, they understand that we have taken up our pens to write our own history.

We will continue dreaming and we will continue working together to realize our dreams. We have the notebook of destiny in our hands, and we’re writing it today.”

read more

Definitely check out the rest of the article when you get a chance.

That’s all for now. Come back soon for much more from the fast-moving Campaign for Fair Food!