Diversity Matters Podcast: Coalition of Immokalee Workers
The Fair Food Program Focuses on Supporting Responsible Food Suppliers
“It’s about treating workers fairly, and showing our partners that the food they purchase from us is competitively priced and honors a supply chain where workers are valued and treated with dignity” – Dennis Hogan, Foodbuy CEO
As a large-scale group purchasing organization, Foodbuy has a responsibility to our clients to provide responsibly sourced products from ethical food suppliers. As such, Foodbuy and Compass Group have a long-standing partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Program. This worker-based human rights organization has been internationally recognized for its achievements in fighting human trafficking and gender-based violence at work. In 2022, an independent, decade-long study of 40 of the world’s leading social responsibility initiatives singled out the FFP for its uniquely effective workplace protections, including zero tolerance for forced labor, child labor, and violence, including sexual assault.
Last month, the Diversity Matters Podcast covered the story of the Fair Food Program. In this episode, host Laura Moore consults coalition member Gerardo Reyes Chavez, executive director of the Fair Food Program Judge Laura Schafer Espinoza, Foodbuy CEO Dennis Hogan and Foodbuy Senior Manager of Sustainability Graham Givens.
Like many farmworkers throughout the nation, the members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers once faced forced labor, sexual assault, verbal abuse and wage theft. This was all on top of working long hours in the sun, without suitable accommodations. Now, their situations have dramatically improved due to audits, education sessions, trilingual complaint lines and binding agreements with food buyers.
These food suppliers are now required to meet a certain set of standards to sell to many of their buyers, including group purchasing organizations like Foodbuy. This not only helps the workers themselves but benefits multiple members of the supply chain management equation. Growers receive purchasing preference, while buyers benefit from the transparency of worker conditions.
“For the first time, the FFP gives farmworkers a voice in the fields, and real power to ensure that their voice is heard.” – Gerardo Reyes
Foodbuy has been supporting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Food Standards Council since 2009, with an initial commitment to pay an additional penny-per-pound for fresh tomatoes from certified Florida growers, thereby enforcing the FFP’s standards through market consequences. Now, this buying program includes bell peppers and tomatoes from farms along the Eastern Seaboard during the summer harvest season. This commitment is only a part of Compass Group’s gold-standard corporate social responsibility efforts.
Learn more about the Fair Food Program now by listening to the Diversity Matters Podcast or visiting the Fair Food Program website. New episodes of Diversity Matters are published every 4-6 weeks. This series is intended to give us all the opportunity to drive equity through conversation, connecting with the women and minority entrepreneurs behind the products we serve.