As the holiday season approaches, we pause to spend time with friends and family, give thanks, and reflect on the importance of community.
We know that Publix takes pride in giving back to communities across Florida, especially in donating food during the holiday season. It is true that food insecurity -- as Publix defines, “a condition that arises from a lack of enough income and other resources for food” – is a persistent, sobering reality in our communities. We recognize, as signs hanging in your stores this year state, that local families are going hungry. Indeed, many of these families will enjoy a hearty holiday meal because of Publix Super Markets Charities and Publix customers’ donations.
Paradoxically, many of these Florida families who cannot afford to purchase their own dinners are the very people who harvest the bounty that we celebrate this holiday season. Some of these families work hard picking tomatoes, laboring 10+ hour days, six days a week to put food on their – and our – tables. Despite this strenuous work, farmworkers’ pay is often so low that they do not have the resources to adequately provide for their own families. Farmworkers deserve fair pay and dignified working conditions for that hard work.
Thankfully, tremendous progress has been made towards these aims through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program, a historic partnership between farmworkers, 90 per cent of tomato growers in Florida, and 11 major food retailers including McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and most recently Chipotle Mexican Grill. Under the program, major retailers pay a small premium on their tomato purchases, to be passed through to farmworkers by the growers for whom they work, and target their purchases to growers who meet higher human rights standards. Since 2011, the Fair Food Program has distributed over $7 million to workers through the penny-per-pound premium. This money gives farmworkers resources to be able to provide for their families all year round.
As we gather this winter, we will give thanks for the Fair Food Program and the transformation it has brought to Florida's tomato fields that is dramatically improving farmworkers’ quality of life. We ask you, Publix Super Markets, to deepen your commitment to giving back to the community by joining the Fair Food Program – a real, sustainable solution to food insecurity and poverty in our shared communities. Publix’s participation in the Fair Food Program would dramatically expand its impact.
Today, we ask Publix to take the opportunity to be part of a proven model to address the root cause of farmworker poverty across Florida, and demonstrate that it values the hard work of farmworkers who make possible the food we share this holiday.