...from field to fork - fairly and justly.

Treasure Coast Fair Food



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The Tomato Rabbis

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on July 8, 2013 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

NEWSFLASH....This just in...A new addition to our "Facts" page!  Directed and with photography by Jeffrey Schifman, this is an excellent short film featuring a group rabbis from various parts of the country, including our own Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser of Temple Beit HaYam in Stuart, FL. Way to go, Rabbi Jeff and friends!  

Rabbis from T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights visit the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to learn about the new day dawning in the Florida tomato industry and mobilize the Jewish community to take action. Includes a visit to the tomato fields, interviews with rabbis and CIW members, and a protest action in a Florida grocery store. 

Please take the time to view the short film, "The Tomato Rabbis". It is very informative, educational and edifying.

TCCF July Meeting - SEAS Bulletin Announcement

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on June 20, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Bulletin announcement - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church

As Catholics we are guided by 7 Social Justice teachings, and these teachings support respect for all life through basic human rights, and the dignity of all people. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a group of Florida farmworkers, has been working to improve their human rights & conditions in the fields. Interfaith Action is a broad-based network of people of faith who work in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers as they struggle for human rights in the fields. Interfaith Action facilitates dialogue, reflection, education and action between farmworkers and people of faith in order to build mutual understanding and work for lasting systemic change in the agricultural and corporate food industries. The Treasure Coast Fair Food (TCFF) Chapter is a newly formed interfaith advocacy group working to raise awareness of the Fair Food Program and the work of the CIW here along the Treasure Coast.


The TCFF will host a meeting here at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Monday July 15th at 7 pm in the Chapel. This meeting is open to all! If you are interested in learning more about the CIW, TCFF, or the Fair Food Program and how you can help be an advocate for human rights & social justice, please join us! For more online information visit us at www.tcfairfood.org For more info on the CIW visit their site at www.ciw-online.org . Maria McCadden will be available after all masses July 6-7 with more information.


Making a Stand at PUBLIX Harbor Point store in Vero Beach!

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 26, 2013 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

TCFF: Making Plans


Posted on May 25, 2013 by mariagstudios

Last week the Treasure Coast Fair Food Chapter (TCFF) met for the second time to develop plans for several actions in support of the Coalition of Immokolee Workers (CIW) and their campaign to get Publix to sign on to the Fair Food Program. In reviewing some of the hand-outs and my notes, I must say that we are an ambitious group! We’re certainly old enough to know better, so I guess this means we’re just really passionate about helping to educate the Treasure Coast community about the CIW & the Fair Food movement.


Publix is holding a Grand Opening of its newest store in Vero Beach today, Saturday, May 25th. Not enough time to organize a large crowd, but a few of us gathered there this morning to welcome the new manager to the neighborhood & to invite Publix (once again) to the Fair Food Program. We then assembled on the public sidewalk in front of the new Publix on US 1 for a little CIW inspired demonstration highlighting Publix’s unwillingness to come to the table and become a part of a “new day in the fields”.

Other plans discussed at last week’s meeting involve actions in October of 2013, perhaps around Food Day. We will also be organizing several delegations to deliver large 2′ x 3′ signed petitions to the 29 Publix stores along the Treasure Coast just before Thanksgiving; again inviting Publix to the Fair Food table. It really is remarkable that they continue to define the requests of the CIW as “merely a labor dispute”, when it is obvious to everyone else that the Fair Food Program addresses human rights issues.

Wake up and smell the Fair Food winds of change, Publix. It’s a new day in the fields for 90% of farmworkers in Florida. Why continue to do business with the 10% of growers who continue to abuse and exploit their workers? It’s not just about a penny a pound; it’s about humanity.

A formidable delegation of 5 making our presence known! Lots of waves, honks & “thumbs up” for Fair Food! The Publix manager, Lola, was very friendly and promised to send our letters to corporate headquarters. We included a scanned copy of Lani Havens op-ed piece in the Palm Beach Post. Hey, Publix, take note: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has a new advocacy chapter on the Treasure Coast: Treasure Coast Fair Food. We’re here, we shop, we want Fair Food, and we won’t stop until we get it!



WENDY, It's Time To Wake Up!

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 26, 2013 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Wendy's, What Are You Waiting For?: Calling on the Fast Food Giant to Stand up For Farmworkers

Posted: 05/17/2013 8:59 pm


by Christina Bronsing and Anna Lappé

Who has freckles, pigtails, and is still holding out from joining the Fair Food Program? If you guessed the fresh-faced mascot of Wendy's, give yourself a gold star. As part of its efforts to improve conditions in the fields, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group of farmworkers based in Florida, is calling on the fast food giant Wendy's to step up for farmworkers and their families.

The Coalition has had an impressive wave of wins as many companies -- eleven to date -- have signed an agreement to improve conditions for farmworkers. Of the top five fast food chains, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and Yum! Brands (owners of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and A&W) have all joined the Fair Food Program. In response to pressure from the Coalition and its allies, the list has grown to includeChipotle, food retailers (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's), and food service companies (BAMCO, Aramark, Sodexo and Compass Group). The overwhelming majority of tomato growers now participate in this farmworker-driven commitment through theFlorida Tomato Growers Exchange, which represents 90 percent of the industry.

By signing on to the agreement, companies must now comply with a code of conduct that includes protections for cases of wage theft, sexual harassment, and forced labor. Companies also agree to pay a small premium for tomatoes -- just a penny more per pound. As a result, workers have safer working conditions and have started seeing increases in their paychecks for the first time in more than 30 years.

Think a penny a pound doesn't sound like much? It adds up. Over $10 million has been paid out through these victories since January 2011. That number will only keep growing as more companies sign on.


Wendy's, of all companies, can afford paying this premium. One of the highest earning fast food chains in the country, Wendy's comes in at number two behind McDonald's. Nearly 6,600 restaurants in the U.S. and around the globe afford the company serious market power-- influence that can go a long way to shift purchasing practices. Instead of leveraging that power to demand lower prices from suppliers, Wendy's could be rewarding growers who respect workers' rights.

Other fast food companies have stepped up, like Taco Bell. The fast food giant was the first company to sign on to the Coalition agreement back in 2005, after four years of pressure and organizing. In its announcement, Taco Bell said:

"As an industry leader, we are pleased to lend our support to and work with the CIW to improve working and pay conditions for farmworkers in the Florida tomato fields... We recognize there is a need for reform... We hope others in the restaurant industry and supermarket retail trade will follow our leadership." -Emil Brolick, Taco Bell President (2005)


Brolick and Taco Bell showed that signing on to the agreement wouldn't threaten a company's bottom line. In fact, Brolick's tenure is credited with boosting sales and 'turning things around at Taco Bell. Proof that profits don't come at the expense of workers' rights.

Seven years later, Wendy's is still dragging its feet instead of following Taco Bell's example -- or more accurately Brolick's own example, since he has now taken over as CEO of Wendy's.

This week, as Wendy's convenes its annual shareholders' meeting in New York City, the Coalition is in town to make sure the company has its priorities straight. On Saturday, May 18th, farmworkers and allies will march from Union Square to nearby Wendy's locations, reminding shareholders that farmworkers aren't an abstract budget line item, but hardworking women and men who deserve respect. (And, sure, to give Wendy's CEO Emil Brolick a dose of déjà vu. He already has some experience with this, after all.)

If you're in or around New York, show your support: join the march from Union Square this Saturday at 2pm. And if you're miles from the action: raise your virtual voice and sign the e-petition!


As farmworker and organizer with the CIW, Gerardo Reyes Chávez says, "The change we are seeking is underway--and it is unstoppable. And it is unstoppable not because we say it is -- but because there's people like you taking action."

Join us in asking Wendy's to do the right thing: it's time to stand up and sign-on for a just and fair food system.


Christina Bronsing is an activist and researcher supporting social movements that protect the rights of producers and farmers in the face of a largely industrial, corporate food system. Based in New York, she is currently engaged in research, writing and web roles with Food MythBusters, ongoing research around the social and environmental impacts of global quinoa production with Food First, and editorial support for the Food Security Learning Center at WhyHunger. @cbronsing



TCFF in the Palm Beach Post Newspaper!

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 25, 2013 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

May 23, 2013 - PALM BEACH POST opinion-editorial, by Lani Havens

Last month at a White House forum on human trafficking, the Florida-based Fair Food Program was celebrated as “one of the most successful and innovative programs” in addressing what has been an intractable problem around the world: modern-day slavery. Two weeks later, the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights lauded the same group at a press conference in Washington.

Yet despite the constant recognition of this unique partnership among farmworkers, growers, corporate food giants and consumers as the model for social responsibility in the American produce industry, Publix is soon to complete its fourth year of refusing to join. As a new Publix store opens this weekend in Vero Beach, a group of community leaders and clergy have been calling the company’s human rights standards into question.

For decades, there has been a crisis in the fields of Florida. Wages haven’t budged in 30 years, leaving workers to pick more than two tons of tomatoes in a 10-hour day just to earn the equivalent of minimum wage. Thanks to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, recipient of the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Award among numerous other accolades, seven cases of slavery in Florida’s fields have been successfully prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, liberating more than 1,200 farmworkers.

Charges included locking workers in trucks, beatings, shootings, physical restraint and death threats. The trial for one such case involving more than 700 workers, United States v. Ramos, took place in Fort Pierce.

Farmworkers wanted their human dignity respected. They recognized that growers were caught between two forces: rising production costs and falling prices, from demands by bulk buyers such as fast-food chains and grocers. The result was proving disastrous for workers’ wages and working conditions.

The coalition came up with a simple but brilliant solution. Through the Fair Food Program, growers and buyers agree to a code of conduct that protects workers’ rights, monitored with a 24-hour complaint line plus an investigation and resolution process unparalleled in agriculture.

In addition, participating buyers pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes, passed through the supply chain to workers and subject to regular audits. Under the agreement, bulk buyers agree to shift their purchases to participating growers. The program is backed by market consequences built into the agreements with participating buyers.

Eleven multi-billion-dollar retailers have joined the Fair Food Program, among them McDonalds, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. So have 90 percent of Florida’s tomato growers. Yet Publix, Florida’s largest corporation and our hometown grocer, refuses even to discuss with farmworkers joining the program. In the last few weeks, Publix has not only intensified advertising about its tomatoes, but it has been championing its sourcing from Red Diamond and Flavor 1st, two of the few tomato companies that have yet to join the Fair Food Program.

We like Publix. It has done a lot of good in our communities. Indeed, in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel last month, Publix Board Chairman Carol Jenkins Barnett wrote, “We take our responsibility seriously to inform the community and our policymakers of the issues facing our children and families — and provide proven solutions to address those crucial concerns.”

Where our food comes from is a crucial concern for our families. Fortunately for Publix and its shoppers, there is a proven solution: the Fair Food Program. We want to shop at Publix, but we want food that is fair to those who grow it, fair to those who sell it and fair to those who harvest it.

Lani Havens is a former executive director of Church World Service and former Peace Corps worker. She lives in Jensen Beach, FL.


Florida - America's Ground Zero for Slavery!

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 25, 2013 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (0)


Florida's tomato farms supply 50% of all U.S. fresh tomatoes - but have also been called America's "ground zero for slavery." Countless workers held against their will, threatened with violence and forced to haul hundreds of heavy tomato buckets a day for little to no pay.


Thankfully, a new solution called the Fair Food Program has been proven successful. The Fair Food Program is working to enforce a policy of zero tolerance for slavery on tomato farms.


But a major U.S. supermarket chain, Publix Super Markets, is refusing to support the Fair Food Program. Publix continues to buy tomatoes from growers that are not partners of the Fair Food Program and where workers still toil beyond the reach of its proven protection from modern slavery.


Please Tell Publix to Support Fair Food.


Leading brands including Subway, Whole Foods Market, McDonald's and Trader Joe's have already joined the fight against forced labor and now only buy tomatoes from growers who comply with the following Fair Food Principles:

• A code of conduct for tomato growers;

• Complaint mechanisms for farmworkers;

• Education sessions to help workers understand their rights; and

• Regular auditing of farm operations.

Will Publix Super Markets, which prides itself on making Fortune's "Best Companies to Work For" list, continue to turn a blind eye and give excuses, or will it leverage its vast market influence and lead the way in cleaning up slavery in the tomato supply chain once and for all?


Tell Publix to make the right decision to join the Fair Food Program - and ensure our tomatoes meet the highest human rights standards in the food industry today.


CIW Rally at Wendy's Shareholder Meeting

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 25, 2013 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Coalition of Immokalee Workers Rally Outside Wendy’s Shareholder Meeting


Farmworkers from the the Coalition of Immokalee Workers rallied Thursday in front of Wendy’s corporate shareholders meeting in Manhattan to demand improved working conditions for those who pick its tomatoes. Human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, joined the farm workers’ protest.

Kerry Kennedy: "The CIW has signed agreements with four of the five largest food corporations in America to follow the food — the Fair Food Agreement. All five, except Wendy’s."

DemocracyNow.org Headlines


Humanists of the Treasure Coast join TC Fair Food!

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 25, 2013 at 2:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Humanists of the Treasure Coast Participates in Treasure Coast Fair Food


Treasure Coast Fair Food is a not-for-profit organization of people compelled to act fairly, justly and with social responsibility in advocating to improve human rights conditions and a fair wage

system for farmworkers. It was formed in April, 2013 after a program presented by representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida. HUMTC member Ed Matson represented Humanists of the Treasure Coast at the initial meeting and is one of the 12 founding members of the organization. It represents their shared commitment to join other organizations in advocating on behalf of the CIW.

Overall, Florida produces approximately 1/3 of the nation’s tomatoes sold in stores. Tomato pickers often work 10-12 hour days in grueling conditions with no benefits whatsoever. They are still paid by the piece. The average piece rate today is 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has remained virtually stagnant for more than three decades. That means they must pick 2.5 tons of tomatoes in a typical 10-hour workday to make minimum wage. They have no right to overtime or to organize. In the most extreme conditions, farmworkers have been held against their will and forced to work for little or no pay.

Treasure Coast Fair Food embodies the HUMTC Core Value of working with people of diverse backgrounds to solve problems within our community. For more information, visit www.tcfairfood.org or talk with Ed Matson at one of our HUMTC meetings.


CIW Working for Justice blog by Maria G.

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on May 25, 2013 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Working For Justice With the CIW: Taking on Publix

Posted on April 18, 2013 by mariagstudios

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been a little busy with teaching, cooking, and gardening. Eating local & seasonal is a commitment that I am dedicated to, but it does take time; it’s called “slow-food” for a reason! My other project is my commitment to the CIW (Coalition of Immokolee Workers). Last weekend a group of us formed a new CIW advocacy chapter, Treasure Coast Fair Food. I’m proud to be a part of this support group, but I am also humbled by the other members and the gifts & experience that they bring to our new challenge: Raising awareness along the Treasure Coast & expanding the campaign for Fair Food in supermarkets like Publix.


The Temple in Stuart hosted Elena & Elvin who drove from Immokolee to give a presentation during Shabbat services. There were Unitarians, Humanists, Catholics and other Christians, and the Jewish members of Temple Beit Ha Yam all gathered together for an evening of prayer, praise & song. What an uplifting experience! Elena & Elvin talked about the conditions that tomato pickers endure in the fields and described the daily routine of farm workers. Elvin invited the children to come up & lift the tomato bucket (filled with 32 lbs. of rice to equal the weight of a tomato-filled bucket in the field). When describing their living conditions, wages (about $12,000/annually), and the many abuses they suffer, I think many eyes were opened that night, and many hearts were moved with compassion. During the Q & A period many questions were asked, but one question summed up the whole purpose of that evening, “How can we help?” The following morning we brainstormed a few ideas to do just that; a group of 12 activists plus Elena & Elvin.


We were all full of energy Saturday morning, and accomplished so much. By the time I got home I felt like I had thrown back two dozen shots of espresso! After about 3 hours of conversation, bagels, fruit and frittatas our group had a name, a Google account, a Facebook page (still in the making/tweaking stage!) and a 7-point plan for action!


So, here I go again, if you don’t know what the Fair Food Program is all about click HERE to find out more. If you live along Florida’s Treasure Coast & would like to join the TCFF Chapter, please contact me in the comments section below, or Elena Stein with Interfaith Action. You can also find us soon on Facebook! A Website & social media pages are all under construction, so be patient with that. Please share this post, and (of course) we can use all the prayers you can throw our way as we try to advocate for the CIW!

Another great article about TCFF!

Posted by adm_tcfairfood on April 24, 2013 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Another great news article on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' website...

March gives rise to new Fair Food Committee on Florida's east coast with a strong interfaith spirit...

After more than a decade of community gatherings, class presentations, candlelight vigils, pray-ins, and protests -- not to mention the hotly contested Publix campaign right here in the CIW's home state -- the Campaign for Fair Food has built a pretty impressive network of consumer allies across Florida. But the campaign has never had an organized presence in Florida's aptly named Treasure Coast (the area encompassing the long middle stretch of the state's east coast)... until now!

Sparked by the infectious energy of the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food, the newest member of the family of Florida Fair Food communities is Treasure Coast Fair Food (their website and Facebook page are under construction at the moment, but you can go here for a first-hand post on their creation and their plans for the future).

Last week, at the culmination of a CIW presentation held at a Treasure Coast area synagogue, the rabbi asked any newcomers to stand up and introduce themselves. One by one, people rose — from the UCC church, from the UU congregation, from four different Catholic parishes — until 20 people were standing. In the palpable silence that followed, the participants registered the moving - and all too rare - display of diversity before them.

Take a look at the firsthand account by the Treasure Coast Palm, where the columnist was every bit as taken aback as the rest of those in attendance:

Pay more for tomatoes at Publix? This diverse group says, 'yes please'

STUART — They were Catholic and Unitarian; Christians from the United Church of Christ and Humanists. They sat shoulder to shoulder Friday night at Temple Beit Hayam with members of the Jewish congregation. If I hadn't witnessed it, I wouldn't have believed any cause could unite people of so many faiths...

Treasure Coast Fair Food members are collecting Publix receipts to demonstrate to the grocer the value of their business to its profits.

... "We are all Publix customers. We are going to continue to be Publix customers," said Ellyn Stevenson, who organized the gathering. "And we're willing to pay more — that's our bottom line," she continued. "So let us pay more and pass it on to the workers."

In addition to her temple, they hail from: Jensen Beach Community Church, United Church of Christ; Treasure Coast Unitarian Univeralist Church; St. Bernadette Catholic Church; Humanists of the Treasure Coast; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. That morning, they formed Treasure Coast Fair Food, a group that initially will focus on Publix.

They hope to attract more people of more faiths, said Lani Havens of Jensen Beach Community Church. It doesn't matter what God they do or don't worship.

"There's common ground in this issue," Stevenson said. "It doesn't have to be political. It's not political. It's human rights and civil rights." read more

The following morning, the founding members met for their first, exciting strategy session as Treasure Coast Fair Food, where they decided to leap into action with a call-in, timed to coincide with the Publix shareholder meeting last week. They certainly wasted no time! Welcome aboard, Treasure Coast Fair Food, we love your spirit, and we look forward to marching together, and building a fairer food system together, in the months and years ahead.