Immokalee Seminar on the Fair Food Movement

On February 13, 2020, a dozen supporters from the region participated in a seminar on the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), which campaigns for farmworkers’ rights, and the Fair Food Program (FFP), which works with major retailers to ensure decent working conditions and fair wages in the tomato industry along the US East Coast, at the CIW office in Immokalee in Southwest Florida.  Both organizations have earned national and international awards for their work. The lead speaker at the seminar was CIW co-founder and human-rights champion Lucas Benetiz.  Both a learning event and a fundraiser honoring the birthday of CIW/FFP volunteer Ted Jackson, the seminar highlighted the importance of the Fair Food Standards Council, which monitors the workplace performance of growers in the program.  If tomato growers’ operations are found to be offside the standards, they can lose access to some of the nation’s largest tomato buyers, including McDonalds, Walmart and Whole Foods.  The CIW/FFP model of consumer campaigns and worker education combined with verified performance against  workplace standards is being applied in other settings, including the Vermont milk industry and in Lesotho’s garment factories.