Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) is a national network of students and youth organizing with farmworkers to eliminate sweatshop conditions and modern-day slavery in the fields. More >>

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2015 SFA Steering Committee!

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Application deadline is October 29, 2014.

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Ohio State SFA kicks off new semester with inaugural Boot the Braids action

OSU_FirstSeptember 24, 2014 — Students at Ohio State University are kicking off the school year in a big way with their campaign to boot Wendy’s off campus. Representatives from a quickly-swelling coalition of groups — including Ohio Fair Food, Real Food Challenge, and Students for Fair Trade — all gathered last week under the banner of a unified message: “we will not stand by while our university is complicit in the exploitation of farmworkers.”

"So far, The Ohio State University is part of the problem by associating itself with a corporation — Wendy’s — that is content to do business the ‘old fashioned’ way, refusing to join a proven solution to end farmworker exploitation,” said OSU grad student and SFA Steering Committee member Ben Wibking in a report back emailed to allies across the country. 

Buckeyes_for_FFWhen students arrived at the campus Wendy’s they distributed fliers and explained to customers how Wendy’s was impeding the expansion of farmworkers’ rights by refusing to join the Fair Food Program. When they approached the local store manager, he accepted students’ letter and said he would pass it along to his supervisors.

After the action, students left excited for a year full of campaigning at OSU.

"We marched and chanted back to the quad and got a few friendly waves and honks along the way, knowing that we’ll be back to keep the pressure on our university to Boot the Braids from our campus in the hope that we’ll push Wendy’s to do the right thing by farmworkers."

To get connected with this amazing work in Ohio, check out Ohio Fair Food on Facebook!

2014 Encuentro a smashing success as students and youth gear up to Boot The Braids!

Yessy_EncSeptember 12, 2014 — Last week, a storied tradition unfolded once again we convened our annual Encuentro in Immokalee, celebrating a decade of student gatherings in the birthplace of the Campaign for Fair Food.

During our time together, we deepened our knowledge of the Fair Food Program, honed our organizing skills, and fortified the relationships that will carry us through the ups and downs of the battle that lies ahead - a battle aimed squarely at Fair Food holdouts Wendy's and Publix.

Friday began with a multimedia performance by the CIW’s theater troupe, tracing the history of Fair Food organizing from its earliest days in the parking lots of Immokalee to the launch and transformative success of a national campaign. The CIW's presentation was followed by introductions from SFA and the Fair Food Standards Council, together fashioning an overview of the many gears that power our movement.

After an afternoon of skill-building workshops, from media & messaging to successful campus campaign escalation, we spent Friday evening examining the meanings of “solidarity” and “allyship.” We heard from the CIW what these things have meant to them over the course of the campaign and challenged ourselves to delve deeper into our commitment to building a food system that’s fair for all. Skill-building workshop

Friday night took us back to the CIW's community center for popcorn and a special preview screening of this fall's Food Chains documentary: a feature length film built around the narrative of the Campaign for Fair Food. Director Sanjay Rawal was on hand to introduce the film alongside CIW members, and the night closed on a palpable feeling of excitement as the credits rolled.

Saturday was all about turning the film — and the countless other tools at our disposal — into meaningful action around the country as schools and universities get back into full swing and communities prepare to harness the momentum of collective action.
March on Wendy's and PublixWith the film's debut in late November, participants committed to bringing the film to countless locations around the country. Students also got into the nitty-gritty of Boot the Braids campaign planning, looking back at Boot the Bell and Dine with Dignity before preparing to escalate on key campuses this year.

Saturday evening saw a dual action that began at Publix.  Outside the store, our numbers swelled to more than 110 as Encuentro participants were joined by CIW members and local Naples allies. Inside the store, local management was unusually receptive to our delegation, though CIW's Lupe Gonzalo reminded management that passing along a letter simply wasn't enough. After five years of campaigning at Publix, farmworkers are ready to have a real dialogue and expect real action on the part of company decision makers.

Nely Rodriguez reporting to the group post-delegationEnergy coursed through the crowd as we marched along Hwy 41 to a nearby Wendy’s. With jaranas resounding behind them, students took up bullhorns, maintaining the ánimo outside as a second delegation entered the unusually quiet restaurant. Joined by a student from Ohio State University —a Wendy's campus located in the burger chain's hometown of Columbus, OH — CIW's Nely Rodriguez spared no pretext about the purpose of her visit. "It's time," she said, "for Wendy's, just like Publix, to stop spreading lies and fronting with excuses. It's time for these companies to take responsibility and help put an end to poverty, physical abuse and sexual harassment that have plagued their supply chains - and this industry - for far too long. A new day is dawning, and there's no longer any excuse!"

By the closing session on Sunday afternoon, the youth of the Fair Food Nation were ready. Filled with hope and first-hand knowledge of the transformative power of the Fair Food Program, the Encuentro participants returned to Ohio, New York, California, Georgia, and too many states more to mention, energized and committed to take the Campaign for Fair Food to the next level.

Boot the Braids takes off in style as SFA prepares to converge
on Columbus

OSU, Temple, UF, UIC lead the pack as students state their beef with Wendy's

Boot the Braids Group Shot

February 27, 2014 – As the Wendy’s campaign enters its second year, students across the country are back forefront of Fair Food, taking the struggle into their own hands and doing it in a big way. Over the past few weeks, student allies old and new have mobilized en masse to launch Boot the Braids at campuses across the country. Check out a sampling of what's been going down:

¡Ni nieve, ni viento, detendrá este movimiento!

Within the deepest reaches of the polar vortex, jaraneros at the University of Illinois, Chicago cooked up a storm of their own last week, melting frets and Wendy's icy disposition with a jarocho-style flashmob at the UIC student center. "No quiero tu hamburguesa, ni tus licuados, porque explotas mi gente por un centavo" rang out over the driving chords of resistance that have long accompanied SFA actions. Later that week, UIC grad student Sylvia Gonzalez, penned a powerful piece in the UIC News directing her words toward administrators, students, and Wendy's all at once:

The UIC administration is in a powerful position to reconsider their contract with the Wendy’s on campus. As students, we have the right to demand that our universities serve fair food and promote ethical business practices. I chose UIC for its visionary commitment to academia and the greater community. As a premier research university, UIC has the opportunity to show the rest of the community that the university is committed to the just treatment of all workers in the food supply chain. Read more

She ends the Op-Ed simply, and on point: “Don’t put this off any longer. Your old-fashioned hamburgers are leaving a bad taste in my mouth.”

On the east coast, Boot the Braids was ushered in by more music, as Rude Mechanical Orchestra pumped up a drowsy Sunday afternoon at Temple University. With a lively picket out in front of the campus Wendy’s, the radical marching band offered half-time entertainment with a message to the masses of students queued outside of the Liacouras Center. Check out the video a supporter put together to capture and share some of “that jazz.”

Our struggles are not the same but they converge

But it's not only universities with Wendy’s on campus that are hitting hard. Students across the country are bringing the word loud and clear that they won't passively accept the status quo. From the University of Wisconsin, Madison to the University of Oregon, Eugene students rallied in solidarity with Boot the Braids this month. Even younger generations of students came together from Santa Ana, California to Tampa, Florida to call for an end to abuses, reminding us it’s never too early to demand accountability in our food system.

Solidarity Op-Ed's have also effectively reached thousands of students. As undergrad Rachel Tyree at Middle Tennessee University writes,

While our university does not have a Wendy’s restaurant directly on campus, we do have the power of thousands of students who can help make a change … It is important for students to understand their opportunity for influence on a large scale and that fighting injustice is not reserved for post-graduation: the time is now. Read more

University of Florida students find themselves at the center of the action in a very unique way. While Wendy’s vacated their campus years ago, the franchise is slated to return in the coming year. Not ones to sit on their haunches, student members of CHISPAS de UF have heeded the call to action. “We want to make sure that we get the message across that we want fair food, and we do not support a corporation that turns its back on injustice,” said Yaissy Solis, a 22-year-old UF journalism senior during an action organized for Valentine's Day. Read the full story here.

Delegation at the University of MichiganUp at the University of Michigan, students connected with CIW member Julia de la Cruz. Soon after tuning in via Skye, they made good on their commitment to take action by delivering petition signatures to the campus Wendy’s.

And no Boot the Braids report back would be complete without Wendy’s hometown favorite: the Ohio State University in Columbus, situated just a few short miles from Wendy’s headquarters. Over the past few weeks, OSU has been a hotbed of student activity, hosting teach-ins, meeting with administrators and delegating Wendy’s on campus (one delegation made extra special by the presence of CIW member, Oscar Otzoy).

If that's not enough for Wendy's, students and community members from across the country are set to converge on headquarters in just over a week. Be sure to take part in this amazing mobilization by registering to join the CIW for this year's "Now is the Time" Tour, and stick close by for more updates!


Boot the BraidsAs students and young people across the country, we say enough to Wendy’s blatant disregard for farmworkers’ rights. Together we declare the launch of Boot the Braids, a student-led movement to cut university contracts with Wendy’s and end our universities’ complicity in Wendy’s disregard for human rights.

Today, farmworkers are organized, and alongside allies across the country they are winning unprecedented gains in the fields. Where once wage theft, sexual abuse and violence were commonplace, now workers have a formal voice on the job, protection from retaliation, and a worker-created code-of-conduct that includes zero tolerance for sexual abuse and modern-day slavery, guaranteed minimum wage, and access to shade, water and bathrooms.

In short, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program is transforming an industry plagued by decades of abuse. Wendy’s, however, continues to provide a backdoor market for antiquated growers to continue doing business as usual, no questions asked. It stands as a paragon of "old-fashioned" exploitation while the rest of the fast food industry – Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, indeed, all of the other major competitors – have committed to doing their part.

We have asked CEO Emil Brolick and the executive leadership of Wendy’s nicely; we’ve sent and hand-delivered many letters, attended the shareholders’ meeting and even on numerous occasions attempted to meet executives at their headquarters in Dublin, OH. But we have been ignored and turned away. And so it seems we have to redouble our efforts and remind Mr. Brolick of the power of students and youth.

OSU delegationAs the ‘target market’ of the fast food industry and as students positioned to hold our educational institutions accountable to ethical practices, youth play an indispensable role in bringing corporate accountability to our communities. Through tireless organizing and education on our campuses and in our communities—rooted in the concept that young people and students are objectified and exploited as consumers by the very same corporations that exploit farmworkers—we have already been a driving force behind some of the largest victories against corporate greed our generation has seen.

Boot the Braids recalls one of the first major moments of student/farmworker allyship in the Campaign for Fair Food. In the early 2000’s students successfully “booted the bell” from 25 high school and university campuses, resulting in Taco Bell – under the leadership of one Mr. Brolick – joining the Program.

So here it is, some clarification for Wendy’s: Boot the Braids won’t sit nicely with your new advertising campaign. If you are really trying to modernize your company, we have got a few things to say:

Humor is a shallow disguise for disrespect.

It is insulting to our intelligence to see tweets being sung by a pre-teen idol – as if that’s what we care about – while Wendy's continually ignores our real voices calling for justice.

Family values cannot be manufactured.

It is degrading to our Latino communities to watch the Rojos family parrot 'mucho mejor' while Wendy’s refuses to do its part to improve conditions that affect thousands and thousands of Latino mothers and fathers working in the fields.

Corporate personification cannot cover up human exploitation.

It is offensive for Wendy’s to hide behind the guise of a little girl to suggest wholesome products while turning a blind eye to abuses in Wendy's supply chain.

Modernization is more than a make over.

It is disrespectful not only to workers but also to your customers to espouse innovation while continuing to sell “old-fashioned” tomatoes rotten with injustice.

Don’t give us any more of the same superficial excuses that farmworkers, students, and your corporate competitors have already disproven. If you do, be assured that we will not allow our universities to be complicit in Wendy’s abuse of farmworkers’ human rights any longer. We will continue to rally around Boot the Braids until Wendy’s joins the Fair Food Program. And, just like Boot the Bell a decade ago, we know we will win.

Farmworkers announce Walmart to join CIW's groundbreaking Fair Food Program; work with CIW "to strengthen and expand" the FFP beyond Florida and into new crops!

Fair Food Nation celebrates historic accord, looks toward Publix, other corporate holdouts

CIW, Walmart signJanuary 16, 2014 — Today SFA is celebrating as the CIW announces a watershed agreement bringing Walmart into the Fair Food Program. For an initial analysis, we turn to an extended excerpt from the CIW's website:

"This afternoon, at a ceremony held under a watermelon packing shed on a tomato farm outside of Immokalee, Walmart and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers signed an historic agreement for the world's largest retailer to join the CIW's Fair Food Program, the widely-acclaimed, social responsibility program bringing real, measurable change to the men and women who harvest tomatoes for Florida's $650 million tomato industry. As part of the agreement, Walmart will work with the CIW to expand the Fair Food Program beyond Florida and into "other crops beyond tomatoes in its produce supply chain."

Alexandra Guáqueta, chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, also attended the signing ceremony "to support the Immokalee workers and the Fair Food Program, which offers such promise for us all," and conveyed a statement on behalf of the Working Group. The statement praises the Fair Food Program for its "smart mix" of monitoring and enforcement tolls, including "market incentives for growers and retailers, monitoring policies and, crucially, a robust and accessible mechanism to resolve complaints and provide remedy," adding, "Workers have no fear of retaliation if they identify problems." The statement concludes, "We are eager to see whether the Fair Food Program is able to leverage further change within participating businesses, and serve as a model elsewhere in the world."

A joint press release issued following the ceremony outlined the highlights of the agreement:

"By joining forces with is Florida tomato suppliers and the CIW, Walmart's involvement will strengthen and expand the existing Program's impact on farmworkers, and demonstrate the company's continued commitment to the Florida tomato industry as a whole. As part of the agreement, Walmart will work with CIW on the following objectives:

  • Expand the Fair Food Program beyond Florida to its tomato purchases from participating Florida-based growers with operations outside the state during the summer harvest season;

  • Reward those Florida tomato suppliers whose operations best reflect the principles of the Fair Food Program with longer term purchase commitments;

  • Work over time to expand the Fair Food Program to other crops beyond tomatoes in its produce supply chain;

  • Work with its Florida tomato suppliers to build the current Fair Food Premium directly into Walmart’s cost for Florida tomatoes, with the growers continuing to pass on the Fair Food bonus to their workers as part of the established, traceable payment system that is monitored by the Fair Food Standards Council;

  • Support the CIW and its participating Florida tomato suppliers to eventually achieve a higher, more sustainable bucket rate paid to workers for harvesting tomatoes. This change will streamline the financial foundation of the Fair Food Program to focus resources on raising the bar for ethical farm labor conditions beyond the Florida tomato industry."

Walmart, CIW meeting

"Not only will thousands of hard-working farmworkers see concrete improvements to their lives," said Cruz Salucio of the CIW, "but millions of consumers will learn about the Fair Food Program and of a better way to buy fruits and vegetables grown and harvested here in the US."

With the ink still drying on the agreement, it is difficult to say with any certitude what the long-term impact of today's news will be. But there are some things that are certain about the significance of the agreement right now:

  • Immediate, concrete benefits for tens of thousands of Florida farmworkers —Today's agreement will bring immediate and concrete benefits to tens of thousands of farmworkers in the Florida tomato industry. Roughly 30,000 workers will benefit directly from this agreement, via the Fair Food Premium and/or through the company's backing of the human rights standards in the Fair Food Code of Conduct already in place at the farms where they work. For a program like the FFP, which is fueled by the market power of its retail partners, the participation of the single biggest company in the food industry today - or in the history of the planet, for that matter - will bring about the greatest impact on workers' lives that any individual new partner could contribute to the Program.

  • The power of the Fair Food Program model to improve the lives of workers beyond Florida and beyond tomatoes — The agreement also demonstrates the power of the Fair Food Program to improve the lives of many, many more workers beyond Florida and beyond tomatoes. With its unique standards and multiple, reinforcing mechanisms to monitor and enforce those standards, the Fair Food Program is fast becoming a model for worker-led, market-driven social responsibility that is a possible solution to the longstanding exploitation in supply chains well beyond the FFP's current field of operation.

  • What now, Publix? — Finally, this agreement begs one very simple question: What now, Publix? What possible pretext could Publix turn to now to justify its refusal to join the Fair Food Program, quickly becoming the recognized gold standard for the protection of human rights in the US produce industry today? For more than four years, Publix has steadfastly turned its back on hundreds of thousands of customers demanding that it join the Fair Food Program, shielding itself with one simple phrase: "Put it in the price." According to Publix's public relations department, the company is not opposed to paying a fairer price for its Florida tomatoes, it just doesn't like the way the Fair Food Program implements the premium that goes to increase farmworkers' wages. Publix says that if the penny-per-pound were put in the price of the tomatoes it buys, it would be all in.

    Well now - even more than before - it is. As the press release makes clear, the Fair Food Premium is put into the price charged to Walmart by its suppliers, who then back the premium out of the price and pass it on to their workers as a line item bonus on their weekly paychecks, a process tracked and audited by the Fair Food Standards Council, the independent organization that oversees the Fair Food Program. It's time, finally, for Publix to leave the past behind and to take up the mantle of leadership as the grocery industry enters the 21st century."

  • And so begins 2014. We can't wait to see what the rest of the year will hold.

Students and youth the driving force behind a wildly successful Wendy's Founder's Week of Action

Powerful protests rock the fair food faker from coast to coast

Farmworkers' Rights are a BiggieNovember 27, 2013 – The Fair Food Nation is abuzz in the wake of a dynamite Founder's week of action. From coast to coast, students and young people poured into the streets and into the headlines to make sure Dave's descendents heard them loud and clear: until there is respect for farmworkers in Wendy's supply chain, the celebration surrounding foundational values rings hollow. Here are just a few of the highlights:

The action kicked off a couple days early when the students at Regis University - many of whom had attended the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food earlier this year - organized a whirlwind of presentations and meetings to welcome CIW member Nely Rodriguez to town. Regis partnered with Denver Fair Food to pull together the dual days' pinnacle: the largest Fair Food march the Mile-High city had seen in years! Seventy students rallied their voices around the CIW's demands, shaking the surrounding air with a resounding call for justice at Wendy's.

Washington DC
DC Fair Food brought together the largest CIW solidarity action the DMV had ever seen. Congregating in front of the White House, 130+ members of the Fair Food Nation from across the Northeast snapped a picture before flooding into the streets. "We are the students, the mighty mighty students" echoed around the oft-sterile New York Avenue as they made their way to Wendy's – and students there were: from Brown to Howard to Penn to American University, student groups turned out in full force. After the action, participants stuck around for a day full of festivities, including a workshop hosted by members of Son Cosita Seria and other visiting jaraneros as well as a fundraiser party DJ'ed by local superstars Maracuyeah. For some great coverage, save another misleading PR bit by Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini, check out this article by Shalina Chatlani of the Georgetown Voice.

River City Science AcademyThe student action wasn't just confined to universities, however, as was demonstrated in spades by high schoolers at Jacksonville's River City Science Academy. From start to finish, the junior class planned and executed an 80+ person march along a three mile stretch of road from Publix to Wendy's. This email from a participating student to her teacher following the march beautifully captures the energy and sentiment emanating from Jacksonville:

"Today I came out not knowing what to expect. Who would be there? How would people react? What would I do? But as soon as we started I knew participating was the best decision I've ever made. I truly felt empowered as we marched and people recognized us. And I felt so involved in this cause. I didn't even drink water until the end as a way to remember Edgar, the bloody worker who came to the CIW headquarters after a boss beat him for wanting a drink in the field. Thank you, to you, Mrs. Rose, Mr. Steinhart, Mr. Raeford, Mrs. Leggit, and every other adult that came out with the students today. This is an experience I will never forget."

Just outside Wendy's hometown, 200+ descended on the red-roofed restaurant near the Ohio State University campus. Denison rolled deep with a crew of forty students, representing the newly-formed SFA chapter that coalesced following last month's Midwest Tour. The CIW's Emilio Faustino-Galindo led a colorful procession marked by flags unfurled, banners held high, and plenty of spirit to go around (the local "Crushers" - a cheerleading brigade - provided a good deal of ánimo!) The day came to a close as their words still danced on the sunny fall air: "Back up, back up! We want burgers, burgers, but only with fair pay for the workers, workers!" Ohio's got beef with Wendy's, and it only continues to grow.

SFA at OSUMiami
From St. Thomas, Miami Dade, and Florida International University, students joined Immokalee farmworkers and local community members for a march down historic Calle 8 under an unseasonably hot November sun. Beginning at Publix, the 110+ marchers wound their way to Wendy's where CIW's Lupe Gonzalo reminded everyone that - though Wendy's may try to hide, we've got the truth on our side! A big shout out to FIU's Student/Farmworker Alliance, who planned a series of educational events on campus - including hosting the CIW's Santiago Perez for a day of presentations and exhibits - in the lead up to the Founder's Week march.

St. Louis
Following a strong action to launch the Midwest tour just over a month ago, St. Louis brought the heat once again last week. The Interfaith Council on Latin America gathered together 30 community members, including student representatives from nearby SLU, for a spirited demonstration that showcased the tenacity of this up-and-coming powerhouse. The action garnered local coverage and was a harbinger of more exciting things to come.

Philadelphia Fair Food won the award for the most actions during Founder's Week, churning out six hard-hitting protests and delegations. (In this case, quality and quantity were not mutually exclusive, and the dedicated Philadelphians pulled off a tour-de-force.) Among the protests were a march through downtown, captured in this locally-produced video, and a picket outside the Wendy's at Temple university, which elicited a bit of a befuddling response:

Students Called Creepy by Wendy's

If nothing else, name calling might be a step up from the usual disinformation Wendy's reps feed their consumer base.

As November comes to a close, the momentum couldn't be higher. We're looking forward to an action-packed couple of months, barreling ahead toward the later half of the season with justice in our sights.

CIW awarded Roosevelt Institute's Four Freedoms Medal, continues to ramp up pressure on Publix, Wendy's

Roosevelt Award CeremonyAmid dual regional tours, farmworkers are lauded for decades of struggle

Nov 4, 2013 –– Earlier this month, the CIW traveled to New York City to accept the Roosevelt Institute's Freedom From Want Medal. The prestigious recognition was an apt acknowledgement of farmworkers' unfailing dedication to transforming our food system and places the CIW in the company of past Freedom Medal winners Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, and a handful of US Presidents, among others. Standing under the towering arches of St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Manhattan's Upper East Side, CIW members elaborated on their vision that is, piece-by-piece, becoming a reality:

"Somewhere we have heard that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice... Today, for the first time in the history of the South, this dream is coming true for farmworkers in Florida's agriculture. For the first time, we have a place at the table. In our struggle for better wages and working conditions, we are confident that this recognition will help us arrive to the day in which our dreams will be made fully real." - Gerardo Reyes, accepting the Freedom from Want Medal on behalf of the CIW

To watch the CIW's portion of the awards ceremony, click here. We're proud to be working alongside the CIW, whose tremendous progress toward human dignity in the fields lands them among the human rights giants of our day.
UF CHISPAS and CIWBook-ending the NYC ceremony were two regional tours. Down south, the Publix Truth Tour launched with a rousing, rain-drenched action in Gainesville, where nearly 100 allies braved the tropical deluge to picket a local store. UF-CHISPAS (pictured left) showed its support, together with the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice who organized a press conference prior to the protest.

Check out the coverage here!

From Florida, the tour continued up through the Tarheel State: the recently-announced new frontier of Publix's "aggressive expansion." Students at UNC, Duke, and Warren Wilson welcomed the CIW onto campuses for classroom presentations and campus-wide forums. We also visited our old friends (and nomenclature near-twins) Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), who helped connect us with local allies and graciously welcomed us into their headquarters. While there were definitely signs of Publix's impending encroachment - including larger-than-life advertising promising that shopping really was a pleasure - we left feeling the commitment of a base ready to mobilize around the Campaign for Fair Food.

Murfreesboro ActionIn Tennessee, we visited the historic Highlander Center for Popular Education: a movement institution since its inception in the 1930s. Over the years it has provided communities with the space and tools to build powerful movements for social and economic justice, from the labor movement of the first half of the 20th century to the civil rights movement of the second to the ongoing struggle that defines us today. After a night of popular education in Knoxville, we joined the stalwart denizens of middle Tennessee for a dual action/vigil in Murfreesboro and Nashville - a day that proved to be among the most powerful on the tour.

After an inspiring meeting with friends at Greater Birmingham Ministries in Birmingham, AL, the UGA Bulldogs planned an incredible welcome to Athens, GA. After a delicious lunch and a well-attended presentation in the historic center of campus, we took to the streets for a good ol' fashioned picket. We finished the evening with an unforgettable dinner before heading out to our final stop in Atlanta. There, our journey culminated in a 200-person action outside the city's most heavily-trafficked Publix location. For some visual mementos of the trip, take a scroll through some of these photos on Facebook, and be sure to read this incredible op/ed written by Emory University Professor Carol Anderson that the Atlanta Journal and Constitution refused to print.

Fair Food FightFurther north, SFA and CIW arrived in St. Louis to kick off a two-week Midwest tour focused squarely on Wendy's. Students from St. Louis University and Webster joined other community allies for an evening picket, their energy magnified by honking cars and waves of passers-by. As the tour continued up to Urbana-Champaign, MEChistAs at UIUC welcomed us with a torta dinner before hosting a jam-packed presentation at La Casa community center co-sponsored by a number of campus groups including the Mexican Student Association and the Department of Latina/Latino Studies. Following the presentation, students delegated the new Wendy's on campus, where one student told the manager, "I love that pretzel bacon cheeseburger, but it would taste a lot better with justice!" Now that's a #pretzellovesong if we ever heard one!

In the Windy City of Chicago, CIW presented to well over 200 students at Loyola, Northeastern, Columbia and UIC. Students, clergy, and a former SFA staffer came together for a downtown flyering action before a presentation at UIC that evening. After hearing CIW speak, students marched to the Wendy's restaurant inside the student center to deliver a letter to local management. The following day, we were invited to the Centro Autonomo space for a presentation and convivio, serenaded by the sounds of Son as we ended our final night on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Real Food RisingAfter passing through Madison for a dynamite event hosted by MEChA de UW-Madison, we continued on to the Twin Cities for an incredible couple of days with our friends at Real Food Challenge. The Real Food Rising Summit came to a scintillating pinnacle as 150 students descended on a local Wendy's to demand the company's commitment to a proven, verifiable solution to decades of farmworker exploitation.

Week two of the Midwest tour kicked off with warm welcome to Denison University, a mere 20 minutes from Wendy's headquarters, where "Big Red" hosted us for the first annual Fair Food Festival. After that, the team holed up in Columbus for a couple of days choc full of presentations and action focused largely on Ohio State University. Columbus will be the focal point of the upcoming Wendy's Founder's Week of Action, November 11-17th, during which delegations, marches and protests are being planned across the Fair Food Nation. Stay with us for updates - including a very exciting SFA announcement - as the pressure and ánimo continue to build!

Encuentro 2013 marks the return of a storied tradition
Nearly 80 students and youth gather for long weekend in the birthplace of the Fair Food movement

Don't miss all the photos in our Encuentro 2013 album on Facebook!

Smiling Banner MarchSept 15, 2013 — Last week, a storied tradition unfolded once again we convened our 9th Annual Encuentro in Immokalee. Students and young people hailing from twenty states across the nation converged in the birthplace of the Campaign for Fair Food for a three-day immersion visit.

During our time together, we deepened our knowledge of the Fair Food Program, honed our organizing skills, and fortified the relationships that will carry us through the ups and downs of the battle that lies ahead - a battle aimed squarely at Fair Food holdouts Publix and Wendy's

Friday began with a performance by the CIW’s theater troupe. Two scenes developed side-by-side: One in which farmworkers labored in fields rife with exploitation and abuse; the other in which those same farmworkers began organizing, building alliances with students across the country to pressure retailers to take responsibility to ensure human dignity in their supply chain. With each consecutive agreement, the conditions in the fields visibly improved, highlighting the powerful advances now underway that are only growing stronger — but also the advances that Publix and Wendy’s non-participation inhibits. Appropriately, then, the theater came to a close with students getting on their feet and joining the theater’s picket line, rallying to a close with cries of “Wendy’s, escucha, estamos en la lucha!“

Third yearAfter a day of skill-building workshops, from media & messaging to successful action planning, we spent Friday night examining the meanings of “solidarity” and “allyship.” We heard from the CIW what these things have meant to them over the course of the campaign. We challenged ourselves to delve deeper into our commitment to building a food system that’s fair for all, from those of harvest food to those of us who are nourished by it.

On Saturday morning, we focused squarely on Wendy’s. Revisiting the history of Boot the Bell – a campaign with which Wendy’s CEO (and former Taco Bell CEO) Mr. Brolick is all-too-familiar – students realized that nearly every person in the room either had a Wendy’s on or near campus or was connected to one in some way. The decision was unanimous to take up the torch this coming school year and, well… Boot the Braids?

Saturday evening saw a dual action that began at Publix. Local management was unusually receptive to our delegation, promising to pass along our letter to corporate. Energy coursed through the crowd as we marched along Hwy 41 to a nearby Wendy’s. With jaranas resounding behind them, students took up bullhorns, maintaining the ánimo outside as a second delegation entered the restaurant.

Inside Wendy’s, the delegation expected to be received like they had been at Publix, with a manager’s promise to pass the message along to corporate. But this Report Backmanager not only refused their letter, but he refused to even hear them speak, throwing up his hands and declaring, “we’re Switzerland on this one” (a reference to his neutrality). Back outside, Gerardo of the CIW paraphrased Paulo Freire, saying that to remain neutral amid oppression is to side with the powerful. And then he went further: ”And I think the people of Switzerland would be offended to have you use their name to defend your neutrality, as the UN delegation that just lauded the Fair Food Program came from Switzerland!”

Check out local coverage of the protest here!

By the closing session on Sunday afternoon, the youth of the Fair Food Nation were ready. Filled with hope and first-hand knowledge of the transformative power of the Fair Food Program, the Encuentro participants returned to New York, California, Texas, and too many states more to mention, energized and committed to take the Campaign for Fair Food to the next level.

Wendy's Week of Action sweeps across the Fair Food Nation

SFAers a driving force behind many actions; provide a sneak peek of what's in store for the fall!

Rooted in Community ActionAugust 15, 2012 -- Students set fire to the final days of summer last week, bringing the Wendy's Week of Action to a scintillating conclusion. From coast to coast, local management was met with allies urging Wendy's to do as the four other largest fast food companies have already done and join the Fair Food Program.

Click here for the full photo report!

As is customary of the Fair Food Nation, actions were varied and ever-creative: from a penny drive in New York City to a full-blown justice tour in the Rio Grande Valley. Students attending convergences in Madison and Santa Ana came out in numbers to demand that Wendy's rethink their persistent evasion of responsibility.

Even those who weren't able to join the picket line took time out to show their solidarity with farmworkers. During a 31-day sit-in at the Florida RGV Justice TourCapitol protesting the state's Stand Your Ground law, the Dream Defenders recorded a video voicing their support. One young man featured in the video was a student at FSU during the Taco Bell campaign, and now stands alongside a new generation of Fair Food organizers.

Wendy's response was tepid and markedly less imaginative, referring many customers to a webpage featuring their well-worn PR response. But we remain undeterred. In fact, the fight for Fair Food at the final fast-food holdout has only just begun. If the youth of the Fair Food Nation have anything to say about it, our involvement in the Wendy's Week of Action was a mere harbinger of what's in store for the fall. We're not known for giving up, after all.

One, two, three...
the summer of action is well underway!

Nuevo Dia New DayJuly 3, 2013 — There's been a lot happening throughout the Fair Food Nation these last two weeks! Just yesterday, the CIW announced that it was the recipient of the Roosevelt Institute's prestigious Freedom from Want Medal in recognition of two decades of work on behalf of farmworkers' human and economic rights and the unprecedented advances of the Fair Food Program. This puts the CIW in pretty good company, as past recipients of the medal include Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Studs Terkel and Eli Wiesel, among others.

Congratulations to the CIW on this highly-deserved honor! It is a fitting recognition of the tireless organizing, perseverance, and community-based action that has paved the way for a new day in Florida agriculture!

Nashville Publix ProtestIn the spirit of continuing that labor, allies around the country have been hard at work keeping up the pressure on fair food holdouts Publix, Kroger and Wendy's. Take a look:

One: Tennessee Rising

Last week, Nashville Fair Food, together with a number of environmental groups and sustainable food organizations, hosted CIW member Nely Rodriguez in the Music City. After an exciting update from the front lines of the campaign in Immokalee, a crew rolling 50 deep hoisted some handmade art into the air and made its way along one of the busiest thoroughfares in Nashville to deliver a letter to local Publix management.

Ohio Kroger Shareholder MeetingEarlier in the week, Murfreesboro Fair Food also held its inaugural meeting, signaling a larger trend happening across the Volunteer State: the Campaign for Fair Food is quickly gaining traction. In fact, representatives from communities across Tennessee convened a call to discuss the first-ever statewide action to be held later this summer. Stay tuned for further details and check out the official Nashville Fair Food blog for a full report on the action.

Two: Ohio strikes again

On a rainy Saturday morning last weekend, 65 members of Ohio Fair Food gathered outside the Kroger shareholders meeting in Cincinnati. Some had begun their journey before dawn, boarding vans in Columbus at 5:30 am to make it out in time for the action.

Joined by CIW member Lucas Benitez and an ally from Immokalee, Ohio Fair Food led a lively picket outside the building, flyering and talking to shareholders as they entered the meeting. Our compañeros from the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center offered moving statements of solidarity before sending the Immokalee delegates into the fray together with a local ally.

Fair Food Twin CitiesDuring the meeting, Kroger CEO David Dillon was cordial when responding to questions, but gave empty answers based on a nontransparent, unverifiable system of self-monitoring. Back outside, the excitement was so high that allies decided to marchto Kroger headquarters a half mile away. After speaking to the company's guard, the delegation was promised a conversation with a Kroger representative. The promise remains unfulfilled.

Three: Twin Cities in the house

This past Saturday, members of the newly-formed Twin Cities Fair Food raced 2.4 miles down Lake Street - "La Frontera de Minneapolis" - from one Wendy's location to another, passing out flyers and talking fair food with community members along the way.

Upon arrival to their destination, the intrepid runners picketed outside the restaurant and attempted to dialogue with local management. Unsurprisingly, their efforts were rebuffed and Wendy's demonstrated once again that the company's ethics - and apparently its manners - remain a cut below the rest.

As we move forward into the heat of summer, one thing remains clear: despite the reluctance of companies like Publix, Kroger and Wendy's to join the Fair Food Program, allies remain undaunted. Our resolve only grows stronger and we've certainly got plenty of ánimo to spare.

Annual Encuentro announced:
apply today to join us in Immokalee
September 5-8, 2013

Las VocesJune 14, 2013 -- This September 5-8, one of our most important traditions will continue as students and youth from across the SFA network converge in Immokalee, Florida — the birthplace of one of the most successful movements for dignity and justice that our generation has seen — for the annual SFA Encuentro: an in-depth weekend of relationship-building, training, strategizing and reflection.

Looking back on the past year, we're proud of the progress we've made as a movement! We celebrated another victory when Chipotle Mexican Grill became the 11th corporation to join the rising tide of Fair Food, launched a national Wendy's campaign with dynamite actions from coast to coast, marched alongside farmworkers for 200 miles to demand justice at Publix's doorstep, and cheered the continued expansion and unprecedented recognition of the Fair Food Program.

But we're not stopping there. With so many things in motion and a rich history to reflect on and learn from as a movement, we're looking forward to building a powerful future together with allies from across the country. Click here to read more and apply!

Rumble in the concrete jungle: 300 march on Wendy's just days before shareholder meeting in NYC!

Wendy's MarchAction echoed around the Fair Food Nation as allies take to the streets from Dublin, OH to Denver, CO

May 21, 2013 -- Ahead of the company's upcoming shareholder meeting in New York, allies in the Big Apple joined farmworkers this past weekend for the largest Wendy's action to date.

The day began in Union Square, temporarily converted into an outdoor staging grounds for the CIW's latest popular theater production. Red balloons were ubiquitous among the crowd that gathered to watch as farmworkers won accords with Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway. In the final act, a larger-than-life Wendy's stubbornly batted away an oversized pencil, refusing to sign an agreement and maintaining her title as the only company among the five largest fast food chains in the nation not yet participating in the Fair Food Program.

From there participants proceeded down Broadway Avenue at the height of midday traffic. The march was a spirited celebration of the new day dawning in Florida agriculture and a powerful indictment of Wendy's reluctance to join the rising tide of justice. At its pinnacle, the procession stretched for two full city blocks -- a striking sight even amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Manhattan.

SFA_Wendy'sFarmworkers and allies delegated two Wendy's restaurants along the way. At both locations, management refused to accept protestors' letters, telling them instead to direct any questions to corporate. Despite the chilly reception, the streets outside were red hot - the blare of big brass and rousing chants echoing around the concrete alleyways: "Your burgers may be square but your food ain't fair!"

Allies in over a dozen cities across the country also took part in the weekend of action. In Cincinnati, OH - just a few short hours from Wendy's headquarters - over twenty fair food allies were rebuffed and even threatened with a call to the police while trying to deliver a letter to local management. In the Bay Area, colorful banners adorned a picket organized by allies from San Francisco and Oakland.

The saga continues this Thursday, as Kerry Kennedy joins farmworkers and allies outside the Wendy's shareholder meeting at the Sofetil Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. They will hold a press conference outside the hotel as shareholders arrive, presenting 90,000 petition signatures decrying Wendy's resistance to the Fair Food Program.

Final Day MarchThe March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food comes to a brilliant conclusion in Lakeland

SFAers' voices join 1,500 farmworkers and allies in demanding justice at the gates of Publix corporate headquarters

The Coalition represents hope, hope for a better world. And as young people we will always be here supporting and fighting for the cause, because the Coalition's cause is a just one and we will win!

- Lis-Marie Alvaro, SFA Steering Committee Member; Homestead, FL

March 25, 2013 -- The final six miles of the March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food were an epic conclusion to a landmark journey across the state of Florida. Converging on downtown Lakeland - hometown to Florida's largest grocer and fair food holdout, Publix - 1,500 farmworkers and allies from across the state and throughout the region sent a resounding message to corporate executives: it's time to end your resistance and join us on the right side of history!

Core marchers had been making the trek for two weeks: traversing seven counties and countless municipalities for a grand total of two hundred miles en route to Publix Headquarters. Farmworkers young and old sacrificed precious hours in the fields, a reality that only hardened their resolve to complete the quest for justice. Through driving rain, blistering sun, and bloodied feet, they pressed on to Lakeland and arrived at Publix's gates.

In case you missed out on the actionMística:

For passersby, the march was a jubilant celebration of the incredible changes taking root in the fields. Hand-painted across larger-than-life banners, these basic rights helped lead the way up Florida's Gulf Coast and into the heart of the state: the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, the right to work free from slavery, the right to work free from discrimination. The visual representations made apparent the stark contrast between the new day of respect dawning in Florida's fields and Publix's inexplicable resistance to the Fair Food Program.

The final rally at Publix headquarters ended with a mística: a tour-de-force performance by the CIW's theater troupe illustrating the company's obstinance in the face of unprecedented support from consumers, buyers and the Florida tomato industry. Pictured above, farmworkers, students, and participating buyers attempt to push the the truck of farmworkers' rights out of its historical "ditch," blocked by the resistance of a supermarket industry stubbornly anchored by Publix.

March for Rights, Respect and Fair FoodPerhaps the greatest effect of the march is the energy it has generated among the youth of the fair food nation. Students and young people came in droves from the University of South Florida, UCF, Florida State University, Vanderbilt, Emory, Florida International University, UMiami, New College, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Christian College, Polk State College, Florida Southern College, YAYA-NFWM, Tampa Bay Fair Food, United We Dream, Denver Fair Food, Community Farmworker Alliance, DC, Ohio, California, Providence, Madison, Chicago, and the Twin Cities to name just a few.

And the momentum continues -- we have a lot of work to do in the days and months ahead! Here in Florida, we were back at Florida Southern College in Lakeland this weekend with the Modern-Day Slavery Museum in tow. Next month, we'll be gearing up for shareholder meetings and store openings across the country and across the globe, reminding Publix, Wendy's, Kroger and Ahold that it's time to step into the future of food.

Get in touch with us for more info on how to plug in to what's happening in your area, and tune back in as we roll into summer!

The March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food winds its way across Southwest Florida

Flags waving and hearts ablaze with the light of a new day, students and workers continue their
200-mile journey to Publix HQs

Celebrando Marchando

Social Media HQs
Like, share and tweet along with the march!

#FairFoodMarch, #FreedomCannotRest

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"In Immokalee today, many farmworkers are finally seeing the light of a new day dawning. And that's why we're marching. Publix wants to block our path and stop the light of a new day from shining for workers."
--Nely Rodriguez, CIW Member

"We need all of you. We need you in front of Publix on Sunday the 17th to show these wealthy executives that it doesn't matter how powerful they think they are. The power and determination of farmworkers and all of society is stronger than they are."
--Gerardo Reyes, CIW Member

First 100 MilesMarch 5, 2013 - The first week of the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food was an unforgettable one. Flags waving and hearts ablaze with the light of a new day, we set off from Ft. Myers last Sunday, winding our way up the coast of Southwest Florida. All along Highway 41 -- one of the most heavily-trafficked thoroughfares in western Florida -- we have seen an outpouring of solidarity as residents honk their horns, pump their fists, and shout their support for justice in the fields.

Students and youth have been a vital contingent of this historic march. Their indefatigable spirit and dogged determination have been spiritual nourishment to marchers continuing our trek despite blistered feet and Publix's ignorant silence. As Real Food Challenge member and FGCU student Deion Jones declared during the first day of the march, "This is an issue that young people all across the country care deeply about. We believe that everyone -- from the bottom of the supply chain to the top-- deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."

As we press on toward Lakeland and the culmination of the march on Sunday the 17th, let's take a brief look back at some of what has transpired thus far.

Citlalic and NelyAmong the highlights of our first leg:

For up-to-the-minute photo reports and information, check out the official march website, and make your plans to join us as we continue on to Tampa, Plant City, and Lakeland for the culmination of this historic journey!

For now we'll leave you with an excerpt from a poignant reflection penned by Vanderbilt University SFA member and 200-mile marcher, Zach Blume. He hints at a vision of SFA that is formidable and beautiful for many years to come.

I'm excited to see what this march produces for SFA. The energy from students here is powerful, with words like "moving", "inspirational", and questions like "what will our lives be like after the march?" I envision a new burst of energy and organizing that expands our resonance and the movement. This is what Publix should really be scared of: this is not only a wakeup call to them, but also a new beginning for us. And it's going to be beautiful. Read more

See you on the 17th!

CIW LibertadOne week out: the Fair Food Nation gears up to march!

Register today to join us!

February 24, 2013 -- We're just seven days from the beginning of the CIW's biggest mobilization of the year, and allies across the nation are heeding the call to march! Here is a little snapshot of some exciting preparations going down across the Fair Food Nation:

March Website Launched Alongside Press Release

The CIW recently launched the all-new online headquarters of the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food. Head on over for full action details including routes and times, registration, contact information for the Florida-based team, and a press release announcing the march!

SFA and CIW at the USAS Conference

This weekend, SFA and CIW joined our longtime allies, United Students Against Sweatshops, for their 16th annual national conference! Hundreds of students converged on the University of Miami's campus for two intense days of strategy and action. CIW member Oscar Otzoy spoke on a panel alongside worker leaders from around the world, sharing the latest from the front lines of the fight for fair food and extending the invitation to march! Many students made the commitment to join the CIW in Lakeland.

March on PublixModern Day Slavery Museum in Lakeland

The Florida Modern Day Slavery Museum swung through Publix's hometown earlier this month. Among the stops on its three-day stay were a visit to Resurrection Middle School -- where dozens of students toured the exhibit-- and a special appearance as part of Lakeland's annual African-American heritage event hosted by the mayor. Check out the photos that graced the pages of the Lakeland Ledger and read the full update from the CIW.

Mobilizing the Immokalee Community

Farmworkers in Immokalee are gearing up to make their voices heard! Today, the community is celebrating its annual Fiesta del Año del Trabajador ("Year of the Worker Party"): one of the culminating events capping off weeks of tireless organizing and outreach. CIW members new and old are coming together to share in music, games, and community building before setting off together on a 200-mile journey of hope and celebration. Check out the CIW's statement "Why We Are Marching" here.

EsperanzaCaravans across the Southeast and Across the Nation

Across the Southeast and across the country, caravans are coming together as allies make plans to march with the CIW. Atlanta, Nashville, Tallahassee, North Carolina, New York and Washington DC are just a couple of the many locales planning to represent! Hit us up to get in touch with a caravan near you!

Indeed, the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food is shaping up to be an historic event -- definitely one you won't want to miss! So spread the word, get yourself up, and join us in the streets as we take a stand for justice and dignity in our food system!

Will you be there?

In the lead up to historic March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food,
SFA Steering Committee convenes in Immokalee

Strong SFA presence planned at 2-week Publix mobilization; students and youth ready to escalate the Wendy's campaign and committed to strengthening SFA for the long haul!

2013 SFA Steering CommitteeFebruary 4, 2013 -- Immokalee played host this past weekend to the annual face-to-face meeting of the Student/Farmworker Alliance Steering Committee (SC).

The SC is SFA's main leadership and regional organizing body, comprised of some of the most dedicated young organizers from across the country fighting to transform our food system.

Over the course of three intensive days in the birthplace of the Campaign for Fair Food, SC members built strategy and mobilization plans for the upcoming March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food, connected with CIW members to learn first hand about the amazing transformations underway in Florida's fields, developed plans for continuing youth leadership development and expanding the reach of SFA, and recharged their batteries - and their spirits - for the work ahead.

Plans have been laid, commitments have been made -- now we're ready to take action! Join us for what's sure to be an action-packed year to remember!

  • Meet the new SC and get connected with someone in your area!
  • Register today to join us for the march!
  • Click here for a full photo report of the Face-to-Face meeting in Immokalee!
  • Check out an overview of the SC's commitments and decisions!

Museum at Rollins CollegeFlorida Modern-Day Slavery Museum visits Lakeland and Orlando

January 27, 2013 -- The CIW's Modern-Day Slavery Museum - a traveling exhibit tracing the history of forced labor in Florida agriculture - took another turn on the road this weekend, making stops at campuses in Lakeland and Orlando. On Thursday, Polk State College Students Working for Equal Rights (PSC-SWER) co-hosted the museum with the Student Government Association (SGA). Situated in the heart of citrus country mere miles from Publix corporate headquarters, Polk State College was the perfect setting to explore the roots of farmworker exploitation and the profound transformations currently underway in Florida's fields. Students, faculty and staff all made the rounds, many surprised to learn that their hometown grocer had not yet joined the Fair Food Program as eleven other corporate buyers have already done.

The following day, members of the environmental studies department welcomed the museum to Rollins College. One of the day's first visitors was a photographer from the Rollins Sandspur, who snapped some pictures for an online album. As the afternoon progressed, museum staff interacted with student leaders from a variety of classes and organizations, faculty from an array of departments, and staff Polk State Collegemembers from the Offices of Community Engagement and Multicultural Affairs.

The mini-museum tour also marked the debut of a brand new sixth panel: an expansion of the exhibit featuring the Fair Food Program in action. Highlighting everything from worker-to worker education in the fields to the investigative duties of the Fair Food Standards Council, the newest addition is a larger-than-life testament to the power of a program based on accountability and real commitment from all parties. It stands as a reminder that - despite centuries of exploitation staining the pages of US agricultural history - another way of doing business is possible.

With that in mind we're moving into February, gearing up for the March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food. Young people across the country are spreading the word, organizing the caravans and preparing to make the call once more. Publix - anchor to the supermarkets' resistance and roadblock to justice - has held out long enough. It's only a matter of time.

Cincinnati Wendy's RedheadWendy's hears from the
Fair Food Nation

MLK weekend delegations kick off nation-wide campaign

January 23, 2013 -- Over forty letter delegations across the Fair Food Nation signaled the launch of the Wendy's campaign this past weekend. CIW member Santiago Perez sums it up best in this excerpt from

"As Wendy's ... [promotes] its sourcing of 'honest ingredients,' it must realize that respect for human rights and worker participation are integral components of the genuine sustainability that today's consumers expect and demand." read more

Click here for the full photo report and stay tuned for the Valentine's Day of Action!

The time has come for Wendy's to get with the Program

CIW, allies launch nation-wide campaign against "old-fashioned" hamburger retailer

Wendy'sJanuary 18, 2013 -- This weekend marks the launch of a nation-wide campaign against fast food retailer Wendy's. Allies from coast to coast are beginning to organize, demanding that Wendy's do as eleven other corporate buyers have done and join the Fair Food Program.

Help us get this campaign off the ground! Click here to download the Wendy's manager letter and deliver it to your local restaurant this MLK weekend!

The world's third largest burger joint prides itself on selling fresh, never frozen patties, ensuring an old-time taste promoted on airwaves, billboards and busses across the world. However, hamburgers aren't the only thing "old fashioned" about Wendy's.

While fast food competitors McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, and Chipotle Mexican Grill have all directed purchases to growers working to respect farmworkers' rights, Wendy's continues doing business in a manner that is quickly becoming a relic of the past. Flying in the face of consumer demand for fair food, the company operates without any commitment to tomato pickers in its supply chain: no enforceable human rights standards, no support for a fair wage, and no mechanism to effectively and efficiently address abuses as they occur. Together with supermarkets like Publix, Kroger and Ahold, Wendy's represents a viable market for antiquated, exploitative growers currently outside the reach of the Fair Food Program and stands as a road block to the full fruition of a new day in Florida agriculture.

Despite Wendy's reluctance to make concrete strides toward the future, there is an ongoing effort to refashion the company's brand. Take a look at this recent statement:

"We want the most prominent symbol of our brand to reflect the transformation that's currently under way," said Craig Bahner, Chief Marketing Officer. "Our refreshed logo signals the innovation and fresh thinking taking place at Wendy's, while reinforcing that we are staying true to our values as a distinct and beloved brand." read more

Unfortunately, Wendy's "innovation and fresh thinking" has thus far failed to include what could be the most comprehensive, transformative program in the history of US farm labor.

CIW ProtestPlanned updates do go beyond a simple makeover of the well-known logo. They are, in effect, a full-on facelift for local restaurants, including "lounge seating with fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi and digital menuboards." Though consumers may find comfort while surfing the net and munching on a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, we're baffled by the company's reluctance to invest in living wages for farmworkers in its supply chain.

It bears mentioning that Wendy's outdatedness is not for lack of trying. The CIW has sent a number of letters over the years inviting the company to join the Fair Food Program. Allies at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) likewise attended Wendy's shareholder meetings in 2010 and 2011 hoping to find some answers but instead getting the same non-response encountered by farmworkers.

Even Emil Brolick, current President and CEO of Wendy's, has a personal history with the Coalition. Brolick was Chief Executive Officer at Taco Bell during the entirety of a four-year boycott before TB became the first corporate buyer to sign a Fair Food agreement. He was then COO of Yum! Brands, Taco Bell's parent company, before moving to Wendy's in 2011. He is, in short, the last person who can claim ignorance of the Campaign for Fair Food.

So get in on the action this MLK weekend as we take it nation-wide! Click here to download a Wendy's manager letter, and bring it with you to your local restaurant. Then stay tuned as we ramp up the action next month!

Statue of Liberty Tomato BucketCIW announces major spring mobilization!

Farmworkers and Allies to embark on epic 2-week March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food

March 3-17, 2013

December 13, 2012 -- Thirteen years ago, farmworkers from the little-known town of Immokalee set out on a journey. With little more than a map to guide them, a field truck to carry their supplies, and a 12-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty made of fabric, plaster and duct tape to lead the way, they began the historic March for Dignity, Dialogue, and a Fair Wage.

The 234-mile trek from Ft. Myers to Orlando wound through several outposts and cities, as workers from a "forgotten" corner of Florida laid the foundation for what would become one of the most widely acclaimed popular movements in recent history. The destination was the offices of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, standard-bearer of an industry that years later -- thanks to the dedicated struggle of farmworkers and their allies -- is "on the road to becoming the most progressive group" in the US produce business.

The march was also a foundational moment for the Student/Farmworker Alliance, as students and youth walked alongside farmworkers, provided logistical support for the procession, and opened their dorms to house the weary. It was the first opportunity for students from several Florida colleges to learn about and directly participate in the movement to end "sweatshops in the fields." Since then, SFA has grown into a powerful national network, becoming a key ally in the Campaign for Fair Food and one of the most effective youth movements in existence.

Lady LibertyCome March 3, we will once again set out on a mission. We will march to celebrate the changes underway today in Florida's tomato industry. We will march so that Publix does, finally, support the Fair Food Program. We will march so that those growers who refuse to meet the new standards no longer get solace, and sales, from retailers like Publix who remain willing to purchase tomatoes produced the old way, “no questions asked.” We will march because we, as stakeholders in an interconnected food system, care about where our food comes from. And we will march so that, one day, farmworkers across this country might enjoy the unprecedented new rights being born today in the fields of Florida.

Make your plans to join us this spring for what will no doubt be the journey of a lifetime, and stay tuned as more details are published! Living in Florida and want to invite the CIW to your visit your school or organization this January or February? Get in touch with us:!

See you in the streets! ¡Nos vemos en las calles!

"A Tale of Two Holidays" video headlines Thanksgiving Supermarket Week of Action

Click here to sign the petition calling on Publix to join
the Fair Food Program!

Chipotle Mexican Grill Joins the Fair Food Program

VictoryOctober 6, 2012 -- After six years of persistent organizing and struggle -- the longest CIW-led corporate campaign on record -- allies across the country are celebrating Chipotle Mexican Grill signing the Fair Food agreement. With this agreement, Chipotle becomes the eleventh corporate buyer to sit at the table with farmworkers and commit to the Fair Food Program.

Chipotle's decision represents a key moment not only in the fight for workers' rights, but also in the Food Movement at large. It moves us one step closer to ensuring in discourse and in practice that farmworkers' rights are on par with fair animal treatment and environmental sustainability.

Check out this selection of articles from the victory (for a full list, visit our media archives):

Beginning today, "Food With Integrity" will ring true to Florida's farmworkers and to Chipotle consumers around the globe. But even as we celebrate, we must not forget that the struggle continues. Together, we must refocus our energy on the supermarket industry: our most formidable opponent and a critical piece of the Fair Food puzzle. Publix, Kroger, and Ahold represent the final barrier to bringing the New Day to full, brilliant fruition. Let's not give up the fight, but instead press on toward true justice for farmworkers!

2012 Encuentro brings the Fair Food Nation to Immokalee

Before Crossing the StreetSeptember 22, 2012 -- Last weekend saw the return of a storied tradition, as over 70 students and young people from across the country converged in Immokalee -- the birthplace of the Fair Food movement -- for the 2012 Encuentro.

The Encuentro comes at a particularly critical moment in the fight for Fair Food. Following the first full year of implementation of the Fair Food Program -- recently hailed in the Washington Post as "one of the great human rights success stories of our day" -- farmworkers are seeing glimpses of a New Day dawning on Florida agriculture. And yet Chipotle Mexican Grill clings to the past, the lone fast food holdout bent on forging a "Food With Integrity" brand that ignores the voices of farmworkers. The supermarket industry likewise stands as a bulwark against the rising tide of Fair Food, its resistance firmly anchored by Florida's hometown grocer, Publix.

Our work cut out for us, the Encuentro began abuzz with energy in a room full of faces both old and new. Over the course of the weekend, we built skills, crafted strategy, and strengthened the relationships that will sustain us for the long haul (click here to see the full photo report!) By the end of our time together, we were ready to bring the struggle home -- equipped and animated to organize in communities across the country and strengthen the Fair Food Nation; to bring Chipotle, Publix, Kroger and Ahold into the light of a New Day.

As we met in Immokalee, action was also percolating elsewhere in the country. Up in Chicago, allies overtook the Chipotle Cultivate Festival. Supported and bolstered by our own solidarity action in Naples, they connected with Windy City consumers who echoed the demand that Chipotle cultivate a genuine relationship with farmworkers -- one based on accountability, transparency, and commitment.

The week of September 10-15th was dubbed "CIW Week" in Gainesville, Florida, where allies organized a number of educational events and a lively picket outside Publix. Farmworkers made a guest appearance with the Florida Modern Slavery Museum, highlighting the role of the Fair Food program in addressing the roots of the agricultural industry's worst injustices.

Up in Tallahassee, members of FSU Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (AIRR) led a march to the local Publix - demanding accountability from Florida's largest supermarket. The protest came after a day of classroom presentations and an on-campus bucket display highlighting the disparity between the sale price of tomatoes and the piece rate paid to the farmworkers who pick them.

If this month has been any indication, the coming season is gonna be a good one - chock full of action, energy, and (hopefully) victory! Up next: the Chipotle Cultivate Festival hits Denver. Rest assured we'll be there to welcome our friends to the Mile-High City.


For older updates, please visit our news page.


PO Box 603, Immokalee, FL 34143 :: (239) 657-8311 :: organize (at)