From Coalition of Immokalee Workers, on PCUSA’s eloquent and inspiring statement of solidarity:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders are celebrating a major milestone in the ongoing campaign to improve the lives of farmworkers. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) announced that Ahold USA became the first major grocer in the U.S. to join the CIW Fair Food Program. Ahold is the parent company of Stop & Shop, Giant Foods and online grocer Peapod and operates nearly 780 supermarkets in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
Ninety percent of tomatoes produced in the U.S. from November to May are grown in Florida. The CIW says Ahold USA’s support for the Fair Food Program will “extend the retailer’s long track record on responsible product sourcing and strengthen the reach, impact and visibility of the CIW’s social-responsibility efforts. In addition, Ahold USA’s participation will increase the number of U.S. grocery stores carrying Fair Food tomatoes by nearly 75 percent.”
PC(USA) leaders are hopeful other grocers will follow suit.
“On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I want to commend the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Ahold USA on their agreement to improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers in the tomato fields of Florida and the Southeast,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly. “The Fair Food Program is transforming the very structure of the industry, by leveraging the enormous purchasing power of these companies to advance human rights for farmworkers and guarantee the full participation of farmworkers in creating and upholding a more just food system.”
CIW leaders say the announcement “builds on the work CIW, Ahold USA and its suppliers have done to deliver responsibly sourced tomatoes to customers and to help improve conditions for farmworkers in Florida.”
“In this globalized world, it is especially poignant that a Dutch-owned company signs onto the Fair Food Program to ensure that farmworkers are treated humanely in the U.S.,” said Ruth Farrell, coordinator for the Presbyterian Hunger Program. “My prayer is that Kroger, Wendy’s and Publix will also join and that there will come a day when we know that behind every tomato we buy stands a farmworker who is respected and fairly compensated. Thousands of Presbyterians will continue to support CIW until it is so.”
For more, read here.