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In this issue:
Coalition of Immokalee Workers Announce Major Action!
Our long-term partners, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, are embarking on a ten-day, ten-city “Now is the Time” tour, March 5-15!

Make plans to join us! The coalition has come so far and Presbyterians around the country have supported these farm workers from Florida for so many years. To learn more, or to register to join us, contact Andrew Kang Bartlett.

March 8-9: Major Wendy’s Action in Columbus, Ohio
March 14-15: Major Publix Action in Lakeland, Fla.

The Truth Tour that began it all
Nearly fourteen years ago, the Campaign for Fair Food launched when two buses full of farm workers set out from Immokalee, Fla. on the first-ever Taco Bell Truth Tour, leaving behind an industry mired in grinding poverty, rampant wage theft and unaddressed sexual harassment. The workers crossed the nation with their vision and headed toward the largest fast food corporation in the world. Almost from the beginning, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has stood behind the farm workers in their demands for justice.

But for all that the farm workers lacked in rights, pay, and recognition for the tremendous fruits of their grueling labor, what the united crew of workers held was more powerful than the profits and persuasion of any multi-billion dollar corporation whose practices made them poor: truth.

Truth that that their work of harvesting the country's fruits and vegetables merited nothing less than just pay and respect and that consumers, when made aware of the exploitation behind their goods, had the will and power to hold corporate retailers accountable. Truth that corporate retailers could, in turn, harness their market power to reverse the trend of ever-diminishing wages and demand higher ethical standards from their suppliers, and that farm workers, when united with other people of faith and conscience, could see that vision to fruition.

From Exposing Truth to Building a New Day
A decade and a half later, where the farm workers were once exposing a truth, the truth has now long been recognized and accepted. Where they once were imagining a solution, they’re now inviting partners to join them in a concrete reality.

Today, the Fair Food Program has welcomed twelve corporate retailers—most recently Walmart, the largest retailer in the world. Some ninety percent of the Florida tomato industry has come on board. The Fair Food Standards Council works round-the-clock to conduct field and farm audits, investigate complaints and implement corrective action plans. The program’s education, monitoring and enforcement mechanisms have been recognized around the country and around the world for creating, in the words of the White House, “one of the most innovative and successful programs” to end modern slavery today.

Most importantly, the Fair Food Program is working. This past fall, the CIW accepted the Roosevelt Institute’s Freedom from Want Medal for “creating a sustainable blueprint for worker-driven corporate social responsibility, winning fairer wages; work with dignity; and freedom from forced labor, sexual harassment and violence in the workplace for nearly 100,000 workers."

How long, Publix?
Yet, amid this transformation of an industry, heralded from the United Nations to Florida tomato growers themselves, Publix Supermarkets, Florida’s hometown grocer, has refused to join the program for over four years. Despite countless protests and pray-ins, a 6-day fast and 200-mile march and many rebukes of the falsehoods they’ve disseminated, Publix remains steadfast in its refusal. Though the Fair Food Program now enjoys tremendous gains, its full potential cannot be realized until holdout corporations decide that they will only purchase from farms upholding the highest human rights standards.

So this March, we’ll be uniting our voices once more to make it clearer than ever that such a way of doing business is now part of a bygone era—but this time, we won’t just stop in Florida. Because while Publix is “aggressively” expanding throughout the Southeast, support for Fair Food is growing even faster, in Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte—and to hundreds of thousands internationally. As the Editorial Board of the Tampa Bay Times (one of Publix’s hometown papers) wrote itself: "With Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Wal-Mart now participating in the program, there is no reason Publix should not join its grocery competitors in helping to raise pay and improve working conditions in Florida’s tomato fields.”

Why not, Wendy’s?

But seeing as Publix isn’t the only holdout to this proven solution to abuse in their supply chain, we must visit Ohio, the home of the burger giant, Wendy’s. Of the top five fast food retailers in the country—McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s—Wendy’s remains the only one still refusing to join the Fair Food Program.

Our tour visit to Wendy’s headquarters will come almost a decade after Emil Brolick, then-Taco Bell President, spoke these words upon signing the first Fair Food Agreement with the CIW: “As an industry leader, we are pleased to lend our support to and work with the CIW to improve working and pay conditions for farm workers in the Florida tomato fields… any solution must be industry-wide … but we are willing to play a leadership role within our industry to be part of the solution.” Today, as CEO of Wendy’s, the very same Emil Brolick has remained silent.

Start preparing for the “Now is the Time" Tour!

This March 5-15, please join us! Join us for the major Wendy’s witness on March 7 & 8 in Columbus, or head to Lakeland for the major call to Publix on March 14 & 15. Because the fields of Florida have forever been transformed, no resistance from Publix or Wendy’s will turn us back. Join us as farm workers and allies tell them together: Now is the time.

Even if you can't join in person, here are some things you can do:
  1. Encourage people you know in those cities and states to join with the CIW during the tour.
  2. Pray for the farm workers, 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.
  3. FOR PUBLIX:  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 manager’s letters and view other resources.
  4. FOR WENDY'S:  Send postcards and emails to the CEO of Wendy’s. Drop off a manager’s letter to the local Wendy’s store when you shop, calling on them to work with the CIW. Order postcards, send emails, download manager’s letters and view other resources.
  5. Learn more.  Contact Andrew Kang Bartlett with the Presbyterian Hunger Program to share your ideas.
Please consider giving a donation to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund. Together we can end hunger!

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