In Florida and across the country, men, women, and children are enslaved, abused, and exploited in order to pick tomatoes for America's supermarkets and restaurants. For over a decade, Coalition of Immokalee Workers has investigated and fought modern-day slavery in the tomato industry with their Campaign for Fair Food. The campaign has reached a critical tipping point with the four largest fast-food companies (McDonalds, Yum Brands, Burger King, and Subway) and the three largest foodservice providers (Compass Group, Aramark, and Sodexo) having signed Fair Food agreements with the CIW. Public pressure and momentum on the side of the CIW has also resulted in several of Florida's largest growers coming to the table to participate in the Campaign for Fair Food.
Now, the focus falls squarely on the $550 billion supermarket industry. While grocery stores like Whole Foods have agreed to stand against slavery in agriculture, Ahold USA and brands Giant and Stop & Shop have refused to sign. It's time for Ahold USA to support fair food and work with suppliers to ensure justice for farm workers and an end to slavery in the tomato industry.
I am deeply concerned with the human rights crisis present in Florida’s tomato fields and I find that the working conditions of the farmworkers who harvest your company’s tomatoes are as urgent as they are appalling. However, the good news is as a major purchaser of Florida tomatoes, Ahold USA is in an excellent position to help correct these enormous injustices. By working together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Ahold USA can improve conditions and wages in the fields.
The CIW is an internationally recognized, human rights award-winning farmworker organization based in Immokalee, FL. It has organized more than 3,500 farmworkers, assisted the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI in investigating and prosecuting ten cases of modern-day slavery, and has worked creatively and effectively with corporations such as McDonalds, Taco Bell, Yum! Brands, Burger King, Subway, Sodexo, Aramark, Compass Group and Whole Foods. Working with the CIW will ensure that the tomatoes your company sells are not picked by farmworkers who are exploited or enslaved. Right now, Ahold USA has the incredible opportunity to partner with the CIW and become a part of the national movement for fair food.
I urge Ahold USA to meet with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and discuss how Kroger can become a leader in socially responsible practices that protect the farmworkers within your supply chain. This is a historical time in the Campaign for Fair Food – please, sign onto an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and ensure your customers that they can remain proud shoppers of Giant and Shop and Shop.