On April 30, 2013, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Rev. Gradye Parsons, sent a letter to Mr. Emil Brolick, CEO of Wendy’s, calling upon Mr. Brolick “to sit down with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers without delay” and commit his company to the Fair Food Program. 

For over a decade, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined with our mission partner, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), to urge corporations to help end farmworker poverty and exploitation, including modern slavery, by joining the Fair Food Program.  The Fair Food Program—recently recognized at the White House forum on human trafficking as well as by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights—leverages the power of all of the actors in the food supply chain to ensure the human rights of Florida tomato pickers, corporate accountability, and industry sustainability.  Florida supplies over ninety percent of the tomatoes sold in the U.S. from October  to May.

To date, eleven major food corporations and the vast majority of Florida tomato growers participate in the Fair Food Program.  Participating corporations work with the CIW to pay at least an extra penny per pound of tomatoes to increase workers’ wages and commit to purchasing only from Florida growers who uphold the high standards of the Fair Food Code of Conduct. 

Of the five largest fast food corporations in the country — McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell (Yum! Brands), and Wendy’s —Wendy’s is the only one not participating in the Fair Food Program.

“Because Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves,” said Parsons, “we urge Presbyterians to learn more and to join with other Presbyterians across the nation in urging Wendy’s to support the new day of human rights that has dawned in the Florida tomato fields by joining the Fair Food Program.”

The full text of the letter:

April 30, 2013

Mr. Emil Brolick, CEO
Wendy’s International, Inc.
One Dave Thomas Blvd.
Dublin, OH 43017

Dear Mr. Brolick:

I write on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to urge Wendy’s to join the Fair Food Program. 

As you know, for more than a decade our church has been steadfast in our support for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the sustainable, comprehensive advances in human rights and corporate responsibility made possible through the Fair Food Program.  Currently eleven corporations, the vast majority of Florida tomato growers, and farmworkers are collaborating to bring about measurable and significant advances in human rights for farmworkers.  But Wendy’s is missing.  And we are puzzled.

For it was under your leadership that in March of 2005, Taco Bell joined with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to pioneer a new era of human rights in the Florida tomato industry.  Your former company, as did the ten which followed, committed to paying a one penny premium to improve workers’ pay and to purchasing exclusively from growers who meet the higher standards of the Program. 

Therefore, we remain surprised that Wendy’s, which is among the five largest fast-food companies, is the only one that has not committed its significant purchasing power to upholding this proven program.   

Presbyterians across the nation patronize Wendy’s and believe, as Wendy’s does, in sustainable, “honest ingredients.”  But surely one of those honest ingredients must be tomato pickers’ human rights. 

I urge you to sit down with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers without delay and discuss how Wendy’s can become a part of the Fair Food Program.  Your leadership is needed now more than ever.


The Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly