by Krista Lee
Eleanor Tison organized a group of students to attend a film screening at the University of Vermont in Burlington on Wednesday evening. This was a part of the class “Food Justice” that Eleanor Tison is teaching this semester, and two members of Activism Club came to the event as well. The free event was held in the Davis Center and was a packed room with people from the community gathering to hear about food justice movements happening around the country and in our home state of Vermont. After all watching the documentary “Food Chains” there was a talk and Questions and Answers segment with leaders of The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), Migrant Justice farmworkers and organizers from Vermont, and Barry Estabrook (the author of Tomatoland.)
A major focus on the film and the work that the CIW was highlighting in their event on Wednesday was the Fair Food Program that CIW launched in 2011 which is a groundbreaking model for Worker-driven Social Responsibility based on a unique partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers, and participating retail buyers, including Subway, Whole Foods, and Walmart. I highly recommend that you look at their website for more information and learn all about this incredible coalition that is making a huge difference in the lives of farmworkers and in the lives of all people who eat food across the country. The documentary hit a lot of really large issues that the coalition is actively organizing around and winning on a large scale! While they continue to fight and work towards making sure farmworkers are ensured work with dignity and their human rights!
“The CIW’s national Campaign for Fair Food educates consumers on the issue of farm labor exploitation – its causes and solutions – and forges alliances between farmworkers and consumers in an effort to enlist the market power of major corporate buyers to help end that exploitation.”
Migrant Justice talked about the “Milk with Dignity” campaign that has been launched by the organization in Vermont. “There are approximately 1200-1500 migrant workers that sustain Vermont’s iconic dairy farms and turn profits for Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Cheese and other famous Vermont brands. Unlike with seasonal labor, dairy migrant farmworkers have no access to work visas, therefore most are undocumented. Workers typically work 60-80 hours per week and endure extreme isolation, often without a clear sense of where they are. Migrant Justice builds the voice, capacity and power of the migrant farmworker community and engages community partners to organize for social and economic justice and human rights.”
The CIW encourages people to pledge to only shop at stores within the Fair Food Program. These stores pay one more penny per pound to increase wages for farm workers, ensure safe working conditions and prevent forced labor. “Buy Fair Food. Change the World.”
Make sure to check out these websites & donate to them if you can!