PHOTO REPORT: 160+ faith leaders take action in Wendy’s Boycott for Day of Fasting and Witness!

In New York City, an interfaith delegation of religious leaders, including T’ruah’s #TomatoRabbis and Rev. Michael Livingston (middle), fasted and took action outside of the offices of Wendy’s Board Chair, Nelson Peltz, where farmworkers and allies will hold the CIW Freedom Fast in March.

Faith leaders from coast to coast:  “Wendy’s has a moral obligation to do its part in ending the sexual abuse and human rights violations among the people who grow and harvest our food…”

Twenty years ago last Thursday — January 18, 1997 — six farmworkers received the host from Bishop John Nevins of the Diocese of Venice to break their fast and end a thirty day hunger strike that riveted Southwest Florida, and drew the attention of outside observers from soon-to-be Governor Jeb Bush to former President Jimmy Carter.  The workers undertook the hunger strike to demand a seat at the table with Florida tomato growers so that, together, they could address decades of gross human rights abuses and grinding poverty.  That momentous action by early CIW members sowed the seeds for the CIW’s tenacious struggle for basic human rights in the fields to come – a struggle that, two decades later, has borne the fruit of justice in form of the Fair Food Program.

Both to commemorate the courage of those six workers in 1998, and to fuel today’s powerful movement to expand the Fair Food Program’s groundbreaking protections to more industries and regions, over 160 religious leaders fasted and took action last week for the Wendy’s Boycott.  From California and New Mexico to Florida and New York, faith communities brought the full moral weight of this country’s many vibrant denominations — Christian, Jewish, and Muslim — to bear on the campaign to bring Wendy’s into the Fair Food fold, and thus bring an end to sexual violence, forced labor, and other human rights violations to thousands of more farmworkers.

The Alliance for Fair Food prepared a full report on the Day of Fasting and Witness, which you can find here.  Here below is a brief excerpt:

Author and public theologian Brian McLaren joined 50+ allies and farmworkers from Immokalee for a protest in Southwest Florida

This past Thursday, over 160 clergy and faith leaders nationwide commemorated farmworkers’ historic hunger strike with their own day of fasting and prayer. The participants spread across numerous Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim communities in nearly five dozen towns from Boston to Santa Fe and included denominational leaders Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, and Rev. Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderator of the PC(USA).

Participants in the day of action paired their personal sacrifice with public witness to make sure Wendy’s heard their message for an end to farmworker abuse, loud and clear. Some send postcards and letters to Wendy’s headquarters in Ohio, others wrote pieces for local publications, and dozens braved freezing temperatures and the cold shoulder of many a Wendy’s manager to organize demonstrations outside of restaurants in nearly two dozen cities nationwide!… read more 

Check out the Alliance for Fair Food’s impressive round-up of photos and reports from the actions that lifted up the urgent need for farmworker justice across the country – and stay tuned for more on this year’s major action in the Big Apple as we approach the Freedom Fast March 11-15!