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Presbyterian Hunger Program leads delegation to coffee lands of Nicaragua

Deadline for applications is October 1

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

There is still time to register for a visit to the coffee lands of Nicaragua. (Photo by Sharon Carter)

There is still time to register for a visit to the coffee lands of Nicaragua. (Photo by Sharon Carter)

LOUISVILLE – When you purchase that cup of coffee on the way to work each morning, have you ever thought about where it comes from or who grows and picks the coffee beans? Who benefits financially? The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) is once again offering people an opportunity to get a firsthand look at the coffee farming business in Nicaragua.

“The Presbyterian Hunger Program has sponsored a delegation to Nicaragua for many years in partnership with Equal Exchange, the first Presbyterian Coffee Project partner,” said Jessica Maudlin, associate for PHP’s Enough for Everyone program. “The idea is to provide an opportunity for Presbyterians who are involved or interested in fair trade or the coffee project to see how it works and meet face to face with those who grow the coffee.”

The trip is scheduled for January 21-28, 2017. Participants will see the benefits of fair trade by visiting coffee, craft and sewing cooperatives in the country.

“A big component of the trip is the home stay with families. We visit some of the co-ops where Equal Exchange gets its coffee,” said Maudlin. “Participants will spend two nights with farming families, having dinner in the home and then go out and pick the coffee beans with them and get an understanding of how the coffee process works.”

Equal Exchange is one of the largest worker co-operatives in the United states and the world’s largest worker-owned coffee roaster. Its estimated revenue in 2014 was listed at just over $60 million. Maudlin says the trip will give visitors “hands on” experience with the small family farmers who benefit the most.

“It’s a chance to make a connection and see who is picking your coffee,” said Maudlin. “The U.S. spends more than $40 billion a year on coffee. Where does the money go? Any time you can meet the farmer, whether they are growing food or coffee, it is good to go to the source so you have a better understanding of the product and the process.”

Maudlin says the Presbyterian Hunger Program supports the fair trade model because of the dignity it affords artisans and farmers.

“The Book of Confessions says that enslaving poverty in a world of abundance is a violation of God’s good creation,” she said. “So when you have the choice between purchasing something that is going to contribute to this enslaving poverty or give dignity to the producers, it’s a no brainer.”

Anyone is welcome to make the trip. Maudlin says it’s a great opportunity for those involved in a congregation, college or camp that uses fair trade coffee, tea or t-shirts. She says it’s also good for those who host holiday bazaars with fair trade products.

PHP is accepting applications until October 1. The estimated cost of the trip (excluding travel to Nicaragua) is $875. Contact Jessica Maudlin at Jessica.maudlin@pcusa.org for more details.


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