The Current

Advocacy News + Updates

One way you can get involved is by writing a Letter to the Editor in your local paper. A thoughtful and pointed Letter to the Editor is one of the most potent communication tools for concerned citizens. The fight for slave-free tomatoes is a movement that matters to every municipality and every kitchen table. And writing to your local paper is a way you can help take a stand against slavery right here in our own country. Here are some tips for writing and submitting your letter:

  • Keep it short! In general, Letters to the Editor should not exceed 200 words. Try for 150. When in doubt, check with the particular media outlet. Submit your letter online if that option is available.
  • Remember the details! Always include your name and address at the end of the letter. It’s a good idea to include your phone number too (some outlets require it) so the newspaper can verify your identity and authorship.
  • Make it yours! Our samples are simply templates with content to use. To increase the chance of publication, you can “personalize” your submission by incorporating why you care about the issue and why it matters to your community. If your paper has covered a relevant story recently, reference that article—along with the author and publication date—in your Letter to the Editor.

To submit a Letter to the Editor, look up your local newspaper’s website or call to find the email address for submitting Letters to the Editor. If you submit a letter, let us know at [email protected].

Here is a sample Letter to the Editor that you can modify and submit:

Dear Editor,

Here in [insert city name] this summer, where our tomatoes come from and how they are cultivated means a great deal to us, as it should year-round for all [insert people from your city, e.g. “New Yorkers”]

Until recently, I was unaware of the ongoing risk of slavery and violence faced by so many of the people responsible for getting our produce from the fields to our supermarkets. Many of these disturbing cases are rooted in the Florida tomato industry, which grows 90% of our country’s off-season fresh tomatoes. In fact, seven cases of modern-day slavery have been successfully prosecuted in the past fifteen years, resulting in more than 1000 people freed from slavery.

Fortunately, there is already a solution to this appalling situation. There is a unique partnership between farmworkers and tomato growers called the Fair Food Program, which has made enormous strides in ending slavery and other abuses in Florida’s tomato fields. Supermarkets can help guarantee an end to slavery and other serious abuses in the tomato supply chain by joining this program, which establishes a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor and serious sexual abuse on Florida’s tomato farms.

Sincerely,

Your Name

Your Address

Your Phone

*You can insert the names of grocers in your city as well. The only grocers that have joined the Fair Food Program are Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, so your Letter to the Editor can target any other grocery store chain!


Seth Wispelwey is a Field Organizer for IJM's Justice Campaigns. 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.