Three years ago, during the summer of 2012, thousands of you began learning about the very recent history of abuse and exploitation—including slavery—in Florida’s tomato fields. These tomatoes (and the farmworkers who grow and pick them) account for 90% of this country’s off-season (November to May) supply.Read More
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously encouraged, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” In other words, courage, prayer and hard work can and will achieve justice in this world, but that journey takes time. A lot of time. Oftentimes, barraged by a seeming endless array of real (or imagined) global crises and injustices in the 24/7 news cycle, it can seem that justice is never coming.Read More
In our Recipe for Change campaign last summer, we learned that most U.S. supermarkets have yet to take the necessary steps to ensure that their tomatoes are not picked by exploited, even enslaved, workers. The problem is real: The Department of Justice has successfully prosecuted 7 cases of slavery in the American Southeast in the past 15 years, freeing over 1200 workers. Most of these cases were out of Florida. Most involved tomatoes.Read More
Crystal Brunton is a volunteer for IJM and helps lead the advocacy efforts in her home state of Florida. This past summer, Crystal drove 170 miles down to Immokalee, Fla. where she documented her first-hand experience meeting the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and tomato pickers in the area.Read More
Check out yesterdays op-ed in the Washington Post written by Holly Burkhalter, IJM vice president of government relations. Holly writes about the importance of the Fair Food Program in ending slavery in Floridas tomato fields.
Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry four involving tomato harvesters freeing more than 1,000 men and women. The stories are a catalogue of horrors: abductions, pistol whippings, confinement at gunpoint, debt bondage and starvation wages.Read More
The first meetings that led to the formation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers took place in a church basement. And ever since the CIWs inception in the mid-1990s, men and women motivated by their faith have raised strong voices calling for justice and freedom for farmworkers in Floridas tomato fields. This week, we want to share resources provided by some of the people and congregations in this work as a response to Gods call to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke. Read More
Earlier this month, I sent a letter to the CEOs of Ahold, Kroger, and Publix, asking them to join the Fair Food Program (FFP). Under the leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), the FFP was developed by farmworkers and tomato growers in Florida, and has made enormous strides in ending slavery and other serious abuses on Floridas tomato farms. The Program requires participating buyers (like supermarkets) to pay a bit more for tomatoes (a penny and a half per pound) to support a small wage increase for tomato farmworkers, and to require their suppliers to abide by the Fair Food Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct includes a zero tolerance policy for slavery and other serious abuses; buyers commit to purchasing their tomatoes from growers who abide by the Code, and not from those who wont. The FFP is overseen by an independent monitoring system called the Fair Food Standards Council. Read More
Throughout our Recipe for Change campaign this summer, well be sharing stories about slavery in Floridas tomato fields. We are grateful to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for providing this story.
In 1992, a hopeful 19-year-old named Julia left war-torn Guatemala for the United States; her mother, earning a meager $55 a month, was struggling to support her family. Julia hoped to find work in the U.S. in order to send money back to help. Little did she know what awaited. Here I was, thinking I was coming to America for a better life but this was a real nightmare, she recalled. Read More
Children can use their imaginations in such beautiful ways. We have been inspired by our children to think more creatively and courageously about how we can use our time, talent and resources to join God in the beautiful work of justice. Marta Sears
Throughout our summer Recipe for Change campaign, we have been sharing the stories of some of the tomato farmworkers enslaved in Florida, and then set free through the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Thanks to CIW and the U.S. Department of Justice, seven cases have been successfully prosecuted over the past 15 years, bringing freedom to more than 1,000 farmworkers. Read More