Celebrate 10 years of the Fair Food Program by becoming a Sustainer!

We have 10 years of Fair Food to celebrate – and 10 days to get ready for the next 10 years.

Help us sign up 10 new monthly donors each day through June 30 to build the future of Fair Food, brick by brick!

“A watershed moment.”

Those were the words that CIW co-founder Lucas Benitez chose to convey the significance of the groundbreaking agreement announced in November, 2010, between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Florida Tomato Growers, the agreement that gave birth to the Fair Food Program.  That hard-fought victory marked a turning point in the history of the state’s agricultural industry which, by joining in partnership with the CIW, broke away from generations of abusive conditions and abysmal wages and set a course instead for a new horizon of human rights and dignity for farmworkers.

The roots of that historic pivot ran deep.  The Fort Myers News-Press story on the press conference in 2010 captured both the years of struggle that led to the landmark agreement and the hard work that lay ahead of the nascent partnership:

“After years of bitterness and a public struggle, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange have forged an unprecedented pact to change the nature of the state’s $619 million tomato industry — an industry dogged for decades by low wages and labor abuses, including high-profile slavery cases…

… Calling it a watershed moment in Florida agriculture, the CIW’s Lucas Benitez said, ‘Today is not about looking back at the problems of the past. … We are coming together as an industry in which it is finally possible to say that real, verifiable change is not only possible, but underway.’

Benitez and [Florida Tomato Growers Exchange President Reggie] Brown stressed that this is a beginning of a process. ‘This is a work in progress, and this partnership will get stronger over time,’ Brown said. ‘It will not be completed overnight.’ Brown is sure labor complaints will continue to surface; the difference will be how they’re handled.

‘As time goes by, we are confident that we will be able to weed out the bad actors and, working together, build a stronger, more sustainable industry,’ he said.”

The CIW’s agreement with the FTGE never would have been possible but for two simple, powerful ingredients:  An informed, active, and strategic base of farmworker leaders in Immokalee, and consumer allies like you, willing to stand shoulder- to-shoulder with farmworkers in order to change the course of history.

Over the next 10 days, we are asking you not only to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished together since the inception of the Fair Food Program, but to imagine what the next 10 years of the future of Fair Food could look like. Click here to become a monthly Sustainer!

The path that farmworkers have blazed from 2011 to 2021 — with the invaluable support of hundreds of thousands of allies like you — is nothing short of extraordinary.  In early 2011, members of the CIW’s Education Team stepped through the farm gate onto a Participating Grower’s farm for the very first time, speaking freely to workers about their rights under the Fair Food Program in fields that had been strictly off-limits to farmworker advocates for decades.  Indeed, it was not long before those first, cautious steps that this region of Florida had been dubbed “ground zero for modern-day slavery” by a Department of Justice prosecutor.  The region earned that dubious distinction following the discovery of case after violent case of forced labor in Florida’s fields over the previous decade, a disturbing track record of human rights violations that underscored the urgent need to end the poverty and powerlessness that left farmworkers vulnerable to the worst forms of abuse.

Today, those fields would be hardly recognizable to workers who had labored at gunpoint, mired in debt and in fear for their lives, just a decade earlier.  Together, we have not only rooted out the worst actors in the industry – those who for years sexually harassed and beat workers, stole wages, and forced men and women in the fields to work under the threat of violence – but we have forged an entirely new industry, one that ensures dignity and respect for those who harvest the nation’s food.

Over the next 10 days, we are asking everyone – from farmworkers in Immokalee to consumer allies around the country – to take a moment to step back, take a breath, and imagine what we could do in the next 10 years.  By working together and refusing to turn back in the face of tremendous obstacles, we have managed to change the lives of tens of thousands of farmworkers and surpass our wildest dreams of 2011 – and yet, the world we want to build is still far from complete.

Be a part of building the future of Fair Food with us as a Fair Food Sustainer.  That is what being a committed, long-term donor and ally is all about: investing in the world that remains just beyond the horizon.  And if our next 10 years are anything like our last decade, we have every reason to believe we’ll get there.  

Sign up today, if you haven’t already. Call your friends, family members and colleagues and invite them to be a part of this ongoing story for farmworker justice by joining the Fair Food Sustainer Program. Help us meet our goal of signing up 10 new monthly donors each day for the next 10 days!