The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the church are asking Royal Dutch Ahold, owners of U.S.-based supermarket brands Stop & Shop, Giant, Martin’s and Peapod (online), to do what eleven other retail food corporations have already done: join the Fair Food Program. Through the Fair Food Program, retail food corporations agree to:
- pay at least 1 penny more per pound of tomatoes to the growers who supply them. Those growers then pass that increase onto workers. The increase is audited by the Fair Food Standards Council, a third party monitor, to ensure the increase gets to farmworkers
- uphold the Fair Food Code of Conduct by purchasing their Florida tomatoes only from growers found to be in compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct and cutting off purchases from those growers that are found to be in violation of the Code and refuse to correct those violations.
How has Ahold responded?
While Ahold has met with the CIW, they have refused to join the Fair Food Program claiming that their own supply-chain audits show Florida growers who supply the company’s U.S. chains with tomatoes meet all Ahold’s own Standards of Engagement. However Ahold’s standards fall far short of those upheld by the Fair Food Program. Further Ahold has no clear mechanisms for monitoring or enforcements even of these weaker standards, whereas the Fair Food Program is monitored by an independent third party, the Fair Food Standards Council. Read more about why Ahold’s “go it alone” approach had the company continuing to purchase tomatoes for months from at least one farm that was associated with a recent slavery prosecution as well as the CIW’s response to Ahold’s claim to be in dialogue with them.
What can I do?
- Pray for the farmworkers, major tomato buyers in restaurant, grocery, and foodservice, the growers, and the work of the Campaign for Fair Food.
- Send postcards and emails to the CEOs of Publix. Drop off a manager’s letter to the local Publix store when you shop, calling on them to work with the CIW. Order postcards, send emails, download manger’s letters and view other resources.
- Learn more. Contact the Rev. Noelle Damico, Associate for Fair Food with the Presbyterian Hunger Program to share your ideas.
- Give generously to the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering that supports the PC(USA)’s work on the Campaign for Fair Food, which is a ministry of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
How has the PC(USA) been involved?
The PC(USA) has been a partner in the Campaign for Fair Food since 2002 and played a significant role at the local, regional and national settings in convincing major food corporations to recognize their power to change conditions and urging them to partner with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers through the Fair Food Program. The church has done this work in concert with ecumenical and interfaith partners.
Since 2009, Presbyterians across the northeast where Stop & Shop, Giant and Martin’s stores are located, have sent postcards to Ahold’s CEO and dropped off manager’s letters when shopping. Various email messages have also been sent by concerned Presbyterians. Send an email.
February 9, 2012, Press release upon Trader Joe’s joining the Fair Food Program, Statement by the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and Ms. Linda Valentine, Executive Director, General Assembly Mission Council.
The supermarket industry buys most of the tomatoes harvested by Florida farmworkers. And so it is imperative that leading supermarket chains use their power to undergird the Fair Food Program. We take this occasion to call, yet again, upon Publix, Ahold and Kroger to stop standing on the sidelines. Inaction the face of generations of exploitation and a proven model for change is not neutral. Your refusal to join the Fair Food Program threatens to undermine these important gains. The time is now for you to join Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market and the eight other major food retailers who are working with the CIW and Florida growers to eliminate exploitation and slavery in the tomato fields.
November 2011, Thanksgiving letter to Ahold, signed by numerous national religious leaders including the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly.
November 2010, Press release upon the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange joining the Fair Food Program, Statement by the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly and Ms. Linda Valentine, Executive Director, General Assembly Mission Council.
Therefore we take this opportunity to call on the supermarket industry, in particular Publix, Kroger and Ahold, to join this growing partnership of corporations, growers, farmworkers and consumers. If fair food principles are to be fully realized for every farmworker across the industry, supermarkets must also embrace them. We are hopeful, that grocery industry leaders will step forward without delay and lend their support to this proven paradigm of social responsibility, so that fair food principles may be fully realized.
April 1, 2010, Press release upon Aramark joining the Fair Food Program, Statement by the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
I take this opportunity to encourage other retail food corporations such as Sodexo, Publix, Kroger, and Ahold to move swiftly to work with the CIW and craft agreements modeled on the standards reaffirmed in this agreement between CIW and Aramark. People of faith and conscience care deeply that the food that we serve on our tables be produced in ways that ensure human dignity. The agreement between Aramark and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers does this, and more. It ensures transparency for consumers. It ensures business for Florida growers who meet these reasonable standards. It ensures corporations can stand behind the tomatoes they sell.
2007-2009, The PC(USA) has been a signatory on multiple letters to Ahold’s CEO in partnership with others from the Alliance for Fair Food in 2007, 2008 and 2009. [The PC(USA) co-founded the AFF in 2006].
- Read the Boston Clergy letter to Ahold, released February 2011, additional sign-ons in April 2011
- Read the benediction offered by the Rev. Mark Greiner of Takoma Park Presbyterian Church at the delegation to Giant headquarters in Landover, MD.