US Christians join 'fast for fair food' to pressure corporates

By staff writers
2 Mar 2012

Church leaders in United States, along with farmers and consumers, will fast from 5 to 10 March 2012 to protest the retailer Publix’s rejection of the groundbreaking Fair Food Program in Florida.

"... Theirs [Publix'] is a morally indefensible position and they can't look the workers in the eye," said the Rev Bernice Powell Jackson, president of the World Council of Churches for the North America region.

Publix is the state of Florida’s largest corporation and supermarket chain.

On 5 March, farmers who harvest the state's 620 US dollars million tomato crop, the Rev Michael Livingston, former president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the US and director of the NCCUSA's Poverty Initiative, religious leaders, students and consumers will appeal to Publix to recognize the humanity of the workers who pick its tomatoes and join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program.

The logic behind the Campaign for Fair Food is simple, says CIW. Major corporate buyers - companies such as Publix, Ahold, Kroger and Wal-Mart - purchase a tremendous volume of fruits and vegetables, leveraging their buying power to demand the lowest possible prices from their suppliers. This, in turn, exerts a powerful downward pressure on wages and working conditions in these suppliers' operations.

A 2004 study released by Oxfam America, Like Machines in the Fields: Workers without Rights in American Agriculture, concludes: "Squeezed by the buyers of their produce, growers pass on the costs and risks imposed on them to those on the lowest rung of the supply chain: the farmworkers they employ".

The Campaign for Fair Food aims to reverse this trend by harnessing the purchasing power of the food industry for the betterment of farmworker wages and working conditions.

[Ekk/3]

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