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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

Fair Food Program helps keep farmworkers cool

Updated: May 21

Welcome to Team Tuesday!


You may have heard about the GOP’s current drive to ban regulations requiring employers to protect farmworkers (and other workers, both indoor and outdoor) from the effects of working in extreme heat. The GOP is not just banning these rules at the state level; they are prohibiting cities and counties from passing their own protective rules. 


Texas and Florida, two of the hottest states in the country, are leading the pack on this particular abuse (as on so many others).  TX banned regulations last year;  FL did the same in April. 


According to a solid story on this in USA Today,  as bad as those two are, there are only five states in the whole country who have seen fit to offer protections so far, as in requiring employers to provide shade and water amidst soaring temperatures:   California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Minnesota. The Biden administration has thought about getting involved, but hasn't...


Fair Food Program to the rescue!


Employers can choose to do the right thing regardless of what Ron DeSantis thinks, and some in Florida are, thanks to the Fair Food Program (FFP).  A great story in the food and policy website Civil Eats has more.  I encourage you to go and read the whole story, if you want to feel uplifted.


As Civil Eats tells it, the FFP was established in 2011 by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a worker-based human rights organization with a long history of community-based farmworker organizing in Florida.


The program is a unique partnership between farmers, farmworkers, and 14 major food retailers—including Subway, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Walmart, and Taco Bell—that guarantees a set of legally binding farmworker protections for heat and other workplace conditions, which were drafted by workers. An independent, trilingual council operates a 24/7 worker complaint line and audits the participating farms.


Originating in Florida’s tomato industry, the program now operates across many different crops, eleven states and four countries. With the support of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) award, it is anticipated to expand this year to protect farmworkers in 25 states. They have also received support from Mackenzie Scott.


“We as workers can’t afford to wait for the Florida legislature to find its conscience,” said Gerardo Reyes Chavez, a former farmworker and organizer with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, in a statement. “That’s why we are focused on our partnership with many of the state’s largest growers and on expanding the Fair Food Program.”


I’ve long known about CIW, and they are one of the most impressive bunch of grassroots organizers and strategists in the country.   Congratulations CIW!  Your work is saving lives, empowering and inspiring people every day.


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