The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the church are asking are asking Kroger Supermarket, to do what eleven other retail food corporations have already done: join the Fair Food Program. Kroger Supermarket owns the following grocery stores in the South, Midwest and West: Kroger, Ralph's, King Soopers, Food 4 Less, Fry's, Dillon’s, City Market, Fred Meyer, Smith's, Foods Co., Hilander, Jay C, Pay Less, Owen's, Scott's, Gerbes, and QFC. 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
purchase their Florida tomatoes only from growers participating in the Fair Food Program and upholding the fair food code of conduct and suspending purchases from those growers found to be in violation of the Code until they correct such violations.
How has Kroger responded?
Kroger CEO David Dillon at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in 2011 and 2012 said that the company does it’s own (unilateral) investigations and has its own Code of Conduct. That would be the same code of conduct in place while Kroger continued to purchase, and profit from, produce harvested for decades under conditions of poverty, degradation, and abuse.
The Fair Food Program has the highest standards in the industry and a mechanism not only for detecting abuses but for correcting them through the monitoring of the Fair Food Standards Council. The Fair Food Program’s power is based on the market force of the eleven participating corporations who have committed to purchase only from Florida growers who uphold these standards and to suspend purchasing when growers are out of compliance until abuses are rectified.
Kroger might have a code, but it doesn’t have a reliable or strong mechanism for monitoring abuses or correcting them. It’s time for Kroger to join the new day that has dawned in the Florida fields and support the Fair Food Program.
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 CEO of Kroger, David Dillon. 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.
Presbyterians have been involved in public witness. Key public statements and letters by Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and GAMC Executive Director Linda Valentine follow.
Since 2009, Presbyterians across the mid-west and west, have sent postcards to Kroger’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 Kroger signed by numerous national religious leaders including the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. [the document is coming, awaiting it from Interfaith Action]
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 Kroger’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].
PC(USA) Key Public Witness Events with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
- June 2012, Presbyterians who are part of Ohio Fair Food joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers outside of Kroger’s Annual Meeting in Cincinnati for a rally and march. Click here for a full report and photos
- June 2011, Presbyterians who are part of Ohio Fair Food greeted Kroger shareholders and executives as they entered Kroger’s annual meeting, urging them to join the Fair Food Program. For a full report and photos see here.