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

[hupso title=”NEW POST: I believe that we will win! #Encuentro2014 smashing success! #BootTheBraids @FoodChainsFilm ” url=”http://bit.ly/1qEFLqb”] 


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, where several participants stepped up to join CIW staff in portraying the trajectory of the Campaign for Fair Food.  Participants learned about everything from press strategy to Organizing 101.  The group benefited from the skills and experience brought by other youth-led organizations that have long partnered with SFA, including United Students Against Sweatshops and Real Food Challenge.


Every year, the Encuentro experience concludes with commitments, the moment when days of note-taking and lengthy discussions crystallize into concrete plans for the Campaign for Fair Food in the year ahead.  And this year, two exciting new opportunities for mobilizing and raising awareness in the months ahead around the battle for Fair Food came into focus.

First, students and youth will be mobilizing nationwide around the long-awaited theatrical release of the new documentary, Food Chains, which will bring the news of Publix’s stubborn refusal to join the Fair Food Program to hundreds of thousands of new consumers this Thanksgiving.  A special screening of the film was arranged for the Encuentro participants, after which they were joined by the film’s own director for a strategy session.  From LA to Boston, the Fair Food Nation will be channeling the energy created by the film into a wave of actions across the country this fall.  [Stay tuned for much more on the Food Chains campaign in the coming weeks — and how you can be a part of it by organizing a screening in your own school, community, or place of worship!]

And second, participants concentrated on building momentum behind the Boot the Braids Campaign, which will be cranking up the heat on Wendy’s.  SFA members started by going back in time to the very roots of the Boot the Braids Campaign (indeed, to the very roots of SFA!) by taking a deep look at the Boot the Bell Campaign, in which 25 universities and high schools across the country booted Taco Bell off campus in protest of their refusal to sign a Fair Food Agreement with the CIW.  


Drawing on the successful strategies of their predecessors, participants mapped out plans for the coming fall to hold massive actions on their campuses, with the same goal of ending their institution’s relationship with Wendy’s because of the company’s unconscionable decision to turn its back on farmworkers and “the best workplace monitoring program in the US.”  Although there are many other universities with burgeoning Boot the Braids campaigns, it is worth noting that Ohio State University — located in the heart of Wendy’s territory in Columbus, OH — is leading the pack.  With multiple actions already under their belt, and a strong presence at the Wendy’s shareholder meeting this summer, the Buckeyes are preparing for an all out blitz on the burger giant this fall!

Finally, as a down payment on all of their commitments, the Encuentro participants picked up picket signs and joined dozens of CIW members for a dual purpose protest in neighboring Naples, marching from Publix to Wendy’s down busy Highway 41.  Here below are some pictures from the day:




As is always the Encuentro custom, the protest was followed by a dinner and jam session in at Cornerstone United Methodist Church Naples, which generously hosted participants all weekend…


… and with that, the 2014 Encuentro was a wrap.  But rather than being the end of another great annual gathering, it was just the beginning of what is sure to be an eventful fall and winter season for companies like Wendy’s, Kroger, and Publix!