Every day, Americans take the abundance and low cost of our food supply for granted. Ironically, farmworkers — those whose lives are spent harvesting the fruits and vegetables we eat — can rarely afford to purchase them.
Farmworkers’ efforts bring food to your table. Join us in trying to bring dignity to theirs.
Starting Monday March 24, Bon Appétit Management Company cafés around the country will participate in Farmworker Awareness Week, a nationwide week of action organized by Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF). The goal? To raise awareness about conditions for farmworkers on our campuses and in our communities.
As the word “sustainable” expands beyond environmental issues related to food, it is important to remember farmworkers are a critical piece of the equation. They deserve fair treatment, fair pay, and access to the essentials other workers take for granted every day.
For Farmworker Awareness Week, we invite Bon Appétit guests in our cafés at corporations and universities across the U.S. to to visit the information tables we’ve set up. You’ll see five common produce items along with the pennies-per-pound price farmworkers typically earn for hand-harvesting them, a fraction of the end price to consumers. Takeaway sheets will encourage guests to learn more via the resources listed below.
Facts about farmworkers
This information is from the Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the U.S., a report by the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation and United Farmworkers, with support from Oxfam America:
- Their average annual salary is between $15,000 and $17,500. Twenty-five percent live under the poverty level.
- As many as 1,750 workers are believed to be forced into farm slavery each year — in America.
- Farmworkers are five times more likely to die at work than the average worker.
- Few states require farms to provide workers’ compensation coverage for employees.
- An estimated 300,000 to 800,000 children and youth work in U.S. agriculture. Children as young as 12 are legally allowed to engage in farm work.
- Farmworkers are explicitly excluded from laws that protect collective bargaining and free association.
- Hear firsthand from farmworkers at TEDxFruitvale: Harvesting Change, the first farm labor conference of its kind
- Watch Fair Food: Field to Table, a presentation by the Fair Food Project
- Watch The Harvest/La Cosecha, a documentary about child farmworkers in the U.S.
- Read Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, a book about Florida farmworkers by Barry Estabrook
- Read The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan
- Look for Food Chains, a new documentary about farmworkers due to be released this summer