MAJOR ACTION ANNOUNCED: “4 for Fair Food Tour,” March 2-14, 2019, farmworkers and students to take the Boot the Braids Campaign to the next level!

This coming spring, farmworkers from Immokalee and their national allies will join forces on four of the country’s flagship state universities – University of Michigan, Ohio State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and University of Florida – to demand Fair Food on campus… or an end to contracts with Wendy’s!

Today, on International Human Rights Day, we are thrilled to announce the next major action in the national Wendy’s Boycott: From March 2-14, farmworkers and their families from Immokalee will travel from Florida to Michigan and back again for the national “4 for Fair Food Tour,” joining forces with students at four leading state universities who have been ramping up pressure on their administrations to boot Wendy’s off campus until the hamburger giant joins the Fair Food Program.

The action will build on years of intense campus organizing at all four tour stops, bringing farmworkers themselves to the doorstep of these powerful academic institutions to demand accountability alongside students and community leaders.  For the past several years, students at the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Floria have been organizing to send Wendy’s the same, crystal-clear message: If you want to do business on our campus, it’s not enough to just sell fast-food, it has to be Fair Food, too.  In other words, instead of Wendy’s famous “4 for $4 deal,” students at all four schools are saying, with one voice, it is time to put Fair Food on Wendy’s menu, or get Wendy’s off our campus!


In 2017, students organized a nationwide, rolling fast in the Wendy’s Boycott, sparked by a seven-day fast at Ohio State University.  The fast ultimately involved hundreds of students on over a dozen campuses.  This past spring, many of the same students – as well as many new converts to the Fair Food cause – joined the CIW for the five-day Freedom Fast in front of the offices of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz, in New York City.  And finally, just this past fall, students ramped up the Wendy’s Boycott on their own home turf, demanding that their schools “Boot the Braids” as long as Wendy’s continues to turn its back on the Fair Food Program.

OSU student fasters brave the rain during the March 26th Parade for Human Rights in Columbus, Ohio (2017)

Yet despite the growing campus campaign, Wendy’s continues to stubbornly reject its customers’ calls to join the leading social responsibility program in the food industry.  Instead, the fast-food giant has resorted to unoriginal public relations gambits – combined with a cheeky social media game – in search of a message that might assuage its student critics (who also happen to be the fast-food industry’s most prized market demographic). 

Wendy’s efforts, however, have been for naught.  Today, students are more determined and more organized than ever, refusing to accept a public relations answer to a human rights problem.  This spring, for the first time in the Boot the Braids Campaign, the full force of the Fair Food Nation – farmworkers, their families, people of faith, and community leaders – will converge on campuses from Florida to Michigan to stand alongside student organizers in calling on university administrators to listen to their students, and end their contracts with Wendy’s.

Introducing the “4 for Fair Food” Tour:

Here’s a preview of the 12-day, 4-campus route that farmworkers will embark on this coming spring:

  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill:  The Boot the Braids Campaign at UNC Chapel Hill officially kicked off last year during the 2017 Return to Human Rights Tour, when scores of farmworkers and allies joined UNC students in planting the Fair Food flag on campus. Since then, students have been hard at work educating the Tar Heel community — including Chancellor Carol Folt herself, who received a special guided tour of the CIW’s Harvest Without Violence Mobile Exhibit last fall — on the issue of sexual assault and slavery in the food industry, and on the Fair Food Program as the only social responsibility program proven to end those abuses. As plans for the “4 for Fair Food” Tour begin taking shape, the newly-formed Student/Farmworker Alliance chapter at UNC will be taking the lead in escalating their campaign to remove Wendy’s from campus! 

  • University of Michigan: The Fair Food movement on UM’s campus dates all the way back to the Taco Bell Boycott and the original “Boot the Bell” Campaign, in which Michigan was one of the biggest universities to cut its contract with Taco Bell.  More recently, in 2017, Michigan students were the first to pick up the torch from OSU student fasters, turning a one-campus action into a rolling fast across a dozen campuses.  That fast prompted the administration to undertake a study of its own procurement policies, with an eye to social responsibility at the university’s food suppliers.  That study concluded with a resounding recommendation in support of the Fair Food Program, specifically recommending that the university, a) become a signatory of the Fair Food Program, b) establish a close working relationship with the Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network, and c) create a working group with other universities to explore joint efforts to leverage their purchasing power to drive more ethical production of food and other elements of their supply chain.  Throughout the fall of this year, UM students, alongside CIW members, have pressed President Schlissel to adopt the policy recommendations of the study.  The president has responded with a letter to students stating that his Commission on Human Rights will be analyzing the recommendations, but the students are not satisfied. They are joining forces with faculty and Ann Arbor community members on a petition demanding that Wendy’s not be allowed back on campus when construction on the new student union is completed. 

  • Ohio State University:  Now one of the most powerful hubs of student action in the Boot the Braids Campaign – and located in Wendy’s own hometown of Columbus, Ohio – OSU made its name in the Wendy’s Boycott first with the seven-day student fast in 2017 leading up to the Return to Human Rights Tour, in which 19 students, alumni and community leaders went without food for a week in an effort to pressure President Michael Drake to cut the university’s high-value contract with Wendy’s.  Building on the 2017 student fast, and the continuing protests and delegations of OSU students, CIW will be returning to campus to join students in directly confronting the administration’s decision to ignore the voices of workers and students alike, and throw in its lot with its powerful corporate neighbor… for now.

  • University of Florida:  As one of the first campuses to take up the call to Boot the Braids, students at the University of Florida, alongside stalwart religious leaders and community allies, have been demanding administrators cut ties with Wendy’s given the company’s gross human rights record for over four years. The arc of the Boot the Braids Campaign at UF has been strong and sustained, seeing marches with hundreds of Fair Food supporters! And now, students are prepared to take it to new heights as they look to welcoming Florida farmworkers, their families and allies from all across the state to campus this spring. 

Join us!

This spring, students, farmworkers, and their consumer allies will be asking the administrations at four of this country’s most important universities this simple question: What side of history are you on?

Does your institution stand with those who have fought sexual assault and modern-day slavery for over two decades, built an award-winning program proven to prevent those and other longstanding human rights violations in the fields, and provided real hope for an end to the shameful legacy of farm labor abuse behind our country’s food industry?

Or does it side with a corporation that has profited from farmworker poverty and abuse for generations and today stands alone among fast-food industry leaders in refusing to join the Fair Food Program?

This spring, at UNC Chapel Hill, OSU, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, the Fair Food Nation will be demanding an answer – and you’re definitely going to want to be there for it!  Make sure to mark you calendars for the March 2-14, 2019 “4 for Fair Food Tour” and stay tuned for more details in the weeks ahead.