Worker-to-worker education team wraps up first summer of Fair Food Program expansion in Virginia, New Jersey!


Tomato harvesters in New Jersey take home "Know Your Rights" booklets after the state's first Fair Food Program education session
Tomato harvesters in Cedarville, New Jersey take home “Know Your Rights” booklets after the state’s first Fair Food Program education session.


Local tomato harvesters on the Fair Food Program:  “We’ve never seen anything like this in New Jersey…”

Just two short months ago, the Fair Food Program’s worker-to-worker education team broke new ground outside the state of Florida with labor rights education sessions on participating farms in South Georgia.  We were there to bring you a report from those exciting first steps on the summer harvest road north for the Fair Food Program, and since those first days of the season the CIW education team has remained hard at work.  All in all, traversing five additional new states — South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey — the intrepid team from Immokalee met with nearly 2,000 workers this summer about their new rights under the Fair Food Program.

Up and down the East Coast, the education crew encountered a broad range of women and men in the fields:  From seasoned Florida harvesters with years of experience participating in the Program’s Health & Safety Committees and gathering at the CIW’s headquarters in Immokalee for Wednesday night membership meetings, to local workers who were learning of the Fair Food Program for the very first time this summer. 

Across the board, however, the response was the same, from Georgia to Jersey, from new local farmworkers to Fair Food veterans:  “Thank you for being here.  It is great to have this Program in the fields.”


Recent events in the Campaign for Fair Food added an especially inspiring note to the education session agenda this past week.  In addition to sharing the good news with workers that their rights under the Fair Food Program in Florida would now be extended to northern states, CIW members had the opportunity to announce, face to face, the brand-new agreement with Ahold USA, including Ahold’s commitment to support the further expansion of the Program beyond Florida.  With Giant and Stop & Shop supermarkets only a few miles from the farms in question, the news never failed to draw broad smiles and applause from listening workers.  

This first summer of Fair Food Program expansion has indeed marked a major milestone in the continuing advancement of human rights in the fields.  But as momentous as this first phase of expansion of the Fair Food Program has been, it is only the beginning, as the expansion to other crops beyond tomatoes promises to make this coming season in Florida every bit as new and challenging as this summer has been up north!