On February 9, 2012 Trader Joe’s signed a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. In doing so, the Monrovia, CA-based supermarket chain added its purchasing power to undergirding the Fair Food Program that is delivering improved wages and new rights to farmworkers harvesting tomatoes in Florida.

Statement by the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Linda Valentine, Executive Director, General Assembly Mission Counsel, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we commend Trader Joe’s and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers on reaching this agreement.  By joining the Fair Food Program, Trader Joe’s has strengthened this successful, collaborative model between farmworkers, corporations, growers and consumers, that is advancing farmworkers’ human rights, corporate accountability, and consumer confidence.  This humane, cooperative Fair Food Program enables all of us to love our neighbors even as we feed our families.

Presbyterians care deeply about how the food that we purchase has been produced.  For more than ten years our church has worked assiduously with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and people of conscience from across the nation toward that day when we will be able to enter a supermarket and purchase tomatoes knowing that the men and women who labored to harvest them were treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.  Today, because of Trader Joe’s decision to join the Fair Food Program, we are one step closer to that day.

The supermarket industry buys most of the tomatoes harvested by Florida farmworkers.  And so it is imperative that leading supermarket chains use their power to undergird the Fair Food Program.  We take this occasion to call, yet again, upon Publix, Ahold and Kroger to stop standing on the sidelines.  Inaction the face of generations of exploitation and a proven model for change is not neutral.  Your refusal to join the Fair Food Program threatens to undermine these important gains.  The time is now for you to join Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market and the eight other major food retailers who are working with the CIW and Florida growers to eliminate exploitation and slavery in the tomato fields.

We celebrate this momentous agreement between Trader Joe’s and the CIW, the PC(USA) renews its commitment to strive with the CIW and its allies for a more just, sustainable and fair food industry.