The following was taken from an email to Bon Appetit employees from Communication Director Maisie Greenawalt:
I am very happy to announce that Bon Appetit is the first food service company to reach an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to help fight deplorable conditions in the tomato fields of Florida. As many of you may know, CIW has led a multi-year campaign to persuade the fast food giants to pay a penny more per pound for the tomatoes they buy from Florida so workers can receive a higher wage. Company CEO Fedele Bauccio and I traveled down to Immokalee a couple of weeks ago to learn about the issue first hand. Mount St. Mary’s College executive chef Francisco Alvarez accompanied us on our trip and played an invaluable role.
(Image: CIW’s Lucas Benitez and BAMCO CEO Fedele Bauccio in Florida, press release)
We saw trailers that are home to upwards of 10 people that are charged astronomical rents (up to $2000 per month), we heard stories of workers being hit and threatened in the fields, and we saw how hard the work of picking tomatoes truly is. We knew we had to take a stand against these abuses. We cannot have a sustainable future without considering the humans in our supply chain.
We have created a code of conduct for tomato growers requiring them to treat workers well and pay them fairly. If we cannot find a grower willing to abide by our code, we will not buy Florida tomatoes. That is a stronger statement than any other company has made.
Bon Appetit Management Company's press release:
Game Changing Labor Standards: Putting an End to Tomatoes Tinged with the Bitter Taste of Exploitation
Article from the front page of the Washington Post's food section:
A Squeeze for Tomato Growers: Boycott vs. Higher Wages
The article focuses heavily on the idea that we are boycotting Florida tomatoes. Our hope is to work with a grower that will do the right thing for the workers. Since the Florida growing season starts in the late fall, we've got a summer to figure out how to make that happen. Stay tuned and, in the meantime, buy local tomatoes this summer.
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