Student/Farmworker Alliance Launches National “Dine With Dignity” Campaign Urging Aramark, Compass, Sodexo to Address Human Rights Crisis in Florida Agriculture
Students to food service provider industry: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
The Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) has launched the “Dine with Dignity” campaign to educate and mobilize students across the U.S. about the role of food service provider industry leaders Aramark, Compass (and its subsidiary Chartwells) and Sodexo in perpetuating farmworker poverty and human rights abuses. The SFA is calling on these three corporations to follow the example of food industry leaders Yum Brands, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and Whole Foods in partnering with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) – an internationally recognized, award-winning farmworker organization based in southern Florida – to directly improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers.
The campaign’s initial phase, in conjunction with the current National Student/Labor Week of Action and Farmworker Awareness Week — in which students on hundreds of campuses are holding actions and events in support of economic justice — will see dozens of student meetings with campus dining directors to encourage university-level support for farmworker human rights and ethical university food services contracting. The on-campus campaign will escalate in the weeks and months ahead with creative actions, awareness-building and mobilizations planned for various campuses currently under contract with Aramark, Chartwells and Sodexo.
According to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale student Kandace Vallejo, “After eight years of this campaign, seven high-profile cases of modern-day slavery involving farmworkers, and the implementation of five working agreements, what is the food service industry waiting for? Today, our message to Aramark, Compass and Sodexo is clear: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
“Students remain committed to the principle of basic human rights for the workers harvesting the produce served on our campuses, and are demonstrating that commitment by taking a stand alongside farmworkers to demand change. It’s time for Aramark, Compass and Sodexo to align themselves with that same principle by coming to the table and working with the CIW. Until that happens, this campaign will continue to escalate,” said Meghan Cohorst of the Student/Farmworker Alliance.
BACKGROUND: Farmworkers who pick tomatoes for the corporate food industry earn about 45 cents for every 32-lb. bucket of tomatoes they harvest — a rate that has not changed significantly in 30 years. Workers labor from dusk to dawn without the right to overtime pay, receive no benefits and are excluded from the right to organize. In the most extreme cases, workers are held against their will by employers through the threat of or use of physical violence. In the past eleven years, the Department of Justice has prosecuted seven cases of modern-day slavery — involving over 1,000 workers — in the Florida agricultural industry.
CONTACT: Meghan Cohorst, Student/Farmworker Alliance, 239-503-1533, firstname.lastname@example.org;
or Kandace Vallejo, student, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 504-231-2545
For more about CIW’s Fair Food Campaign, click here.