The Current

Advocacy News + Updates

Just over a week ago, we launched our summer campaign, Recipe for Change, here at IJM. Since then, a number of you expressed your surprise that slavery exists right in our own country, in an industry that touches your own lives. We were surprised to learn that too at first, so we wanted to give you more information about the problem, what's being done about it, and how you can help!

The Problem

Slavery and other human rights abuses are a continuous threat in U.S. tomato fields.

  • Over the past 15 years, seven cases of forced labor slavery have been successfully prosecuted, resulting in over 1,000 people freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields. 
  • Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy once called Florida’s tomato fields “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. Things have gotten better. Be a part of the solution.

The Solution

Supermarkets can help end slavery and other serious abuses in the tomato supply chain by joining the Fair Food Program.

  • The Fair Food Program, developed by tomato pickers themselves through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, establishes a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor and serious sexual abuse on Florida’s tomato farms.
  • Major fast food companies, like McDonalds and Subway, have already endorsed the Fair Food Program, but the largest U.S. supermarket chains have yet to support this collaborative effort to eradicate modern-day slavery.  This summer, we are asking anti-slavery advocates to petition supermarkets to do their part by joining the Fair Food Program, just like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have done—the only two supermarket chains as of June 2012.
  • Corporations that join the Fair Food Program agree to pay a small price increase for fairly harvested tomatoes (1.5 cents more per pound), and promise to shift purchases to the Florida tomato growers who abide by these higher standards – and away from those who won’t.

You Can Be Part of the Solution!

Check out the Recipe for Change Resources page to learn more about the problem and the solution!

Eileen Campbell is the Director of Justice Campaigns for International Justice Mission. Justice Campaigns mobilizes people around the country in support of U.S. policies that will lead to the abolition of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Join us this summer for Recipe for Change, as we campaign for slave-free tomatoes.