Fast for Fair Food at Publix Headquarters
February 2012 – “Is this not the fast that I choose? To loose the bonds of injustice…” cries God through the prophet Isaiah! The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has announced that on Monday, March 5th, fifty farmworkers and their allies from the faith, student and sustainable food communities, will undertake a Fast for Fair Food at Publix Grocery headquarters in Lakeland, FL. The 6-day fast will conclude on Saturday, March 10th, as fair food allies rally at a nearby Publix location and then process 3.5 miles to Publix headquarters where they will join fasters in a celebration to break the fast.
From a spiritual perspective, the fast will draw attention to the brokenness in our human community and our food system that leads exploitation of our farmworker-neighbors. As people of faith we will heed God’s call to renew covenant relationships of justice with our neighbors and urge Publix to recognize its connection and responsibility not only to its customers, but also to the farmworkers who harvest the tomatoes it sells.
It is significant that the 6-day fast includes allies and not just farmworkers who harvest Publix’s tomatoes. As consumers we are connected to farmworkers whenever we purchase produce at Publix. Currently our purchasing fuels farmworker exploitation as Publix squeezes growers for the lowest possible cost, and that cost is born by farmworkers in their poverty wages and working conditions. Fasting with the workers demonstrates our awareness of this connection and our commitment to working together with the CIW to be, as Isaiah puts it, “repairers of the breach” (Is.58:12)
While some faith allies will be fasting for 6 days, others may choose to fast for shorter periods of time or choose to fast from purchasing at Publix grocery during this time. If you are able, join the fasters during the week of March 5 – 10; visit them, pray with them, join the rally and procession and fast-breaking ceremony on March 10th.
For several years the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Presbyterians across Florida and the nation have called on Publix to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program which is supported by 9 corporations and over 90 percent of Florida growers. But despite a working, proven model that is improving farmworker wages and advancing human rights in the fields, Publix has not responded positively. You can read more about the CIW’s responses to Publix statements and actions in 2011 and 2012.
Change does not just “happen.” As the CIW’s motto goes, “consciousness + commitment = change.” We have seen the dawning of that change through the Fair Food Program and the improvement of farmworkers’ wages and rights. Presbyterians are praying for Publix, communicating with Publix through postcards and manager’s letters, and now, are invited to fast with the farmworkers. Together may we “break every yoke” (Is. 58:6).
Yes, Schaunel! We'll be posting these to the site later next week. Also be sure to check out www.ciw-online.org/fast which will show the full on-the-ground schedule of activities the entire week.
Will there be prayer or other materials available, for people who want to pray and/or fast in their regular home and workplaces, alongside of the people who are fasting in Lakeland, during the week of March 5-10?