‘Do the Right Thing’: Publix Pressured On Fair Food Program
More than 100 Presbyterian Women gathered at a Kissimmee Publix location on Saturday for the Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, to pressure Florida’s largest corporation to recognize the dignity of the workers who harvest the tomatoes sold in their stores and sign on to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program.
The Fair Food Program is a unique partnership among farmworkers, tomato growers, and ten leading food retailers – including Publix competitors Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s – that advances both the human rights of farmworkers and the long-term interests of the Florida tomato industry as a whole. It is the first large scale program for real, lasting social accountability in the domestic produce industry.
Twelve of the 100+ women who came from around the country – including CIW staff member and farmworker mother Silvia Perez, clergy, and Publix shoppers – formed a delegation to the store’s manager. The petition they presented unites mothers on both sides of the tomato supply chain – farmworkers and consumers – to insist on Publix’s participation in the Fair Food Program, so that farmworker mothers may support their families with dignity. Delegation members presented the petition to the manager outside the store. Directly following, the delegation joined hands in prayer, in hopes of moving the hearts of the Publix executives.
After the prayer, the delegation joined over 100 women on the sidewalk outside Publix, praying, marching, and singing.
Of the day, CIW member Silvia Perez said “On Saturday, I, one of many farmworker mothers, united with consumer mothers to ask Publix to do the right thing. We prayed together, showing Publix that we farmworker mothers are not alone, but rather have always had the support of people of faith.”
Following the picket, Perez addressed the group, asking the women to spread the message of Florida’s farmworkers back in their own communities around the nation.