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“The last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matt. 20:16

Publix Campaign

People protesting with signs

The Rev. Graham Hart, General Presbyter of Peace River Presbytery, and Florida Presbyterians let Publix know that fair food tastes better!

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the church are asking Publix Supermarket, which is based in Lakeland, FL and owns stores throughout Florida and the southeast, 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.
  • purchase their Florida tomatoes only from growers participating in the Fair Food Program and upholding the fair food code of conduct and suspend purchases from those growers found to be in violation of the Code until they correct such violations.

How has Publix responded?

Publix Supermarket has refused to even sit down with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.  Worse, the company’s spokespersons have continually mischaracterized the Fair Food Program in the media and through public statements.  The CIW has responded to these public statements over and over again. 

What can I do?

  • People protestingPray for the farmworkers, major tomato buyers in restaurant, grocery, and foodservice, the growers, and the work of the Campaign for Fair Food. See Faith Moves Mountains for specific prayer and resources for the Publix grocery campaign. 
  • Send postcards and emails to the CEO 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 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.

In the Publix Campaign, Presbyterians have been involved in public witness with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for a number of years.  Below are key public statements made by Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and GAMC Executive Director Linda Valentine.

PC(USA) Key Public Statements

PC(USA) Key Public Witness Events with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

March 2013, 200 Mile March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food,

Video of Pastor Miguel Estrada of PC(USA)-supported Mision Peniel in Immokalee, during a vigil on the 200 mile march “We are not against Publix, we are against injustice”

March 9, 2012, Statement of Support to the Fasters during the Fast for Fair Food outside Publix Headquarters in Lakeland, FL, March 9, 2012, The Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

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 Publix, 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 Publix’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]. 

People protesting with signs

A member of the CIW outside Publix headquarters during the Fast for Fair Food, March 2012

PC(USA) Key Public Witness Events with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

  • Fast for Fair Food at Publix Headquarters, Lakeland, FL, March 2012

Presbyterian resources for the Fast
Photo / video and media coverage
of the Fast




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