Blog: Farmworkers

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On my table sat a hefty 5-gallon bucket overflowing with green apples. Weighing in at 32 pounds, the fruit represented the average harvest bucket of green tomatoes for which farmworkers in Florida — where most of the tomatoes east of the Mississippi come from in the winter months — are paid a shocking 45 cents per bucket. 

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National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW) is a week of action that honors farmworkers for the critical role they play in our society while raising awareness about issues affecting them and their families. For almost a decade, Bon Appétit Management Company has been celebrating NFAW in partnership with Student Action with Farmworkers on our campuses.

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Founded in 1993 in Immokalee, FL, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has pushed for fair labor practices by forging strategic alliances among farmworkers, produce growers, and retail buyers. Take a look at key moments in their impressive 25-year history.

When I enter a new classroom or forum, I often ask, “How many people know where their food comes from?” Later, another question arises, “Each time you pick up a piece of produce at the store, do you consider the hands that picked that produce? Those that handled that piece of nutrition, and eventually passed it along to you?” Most students will answer no. I would have too, before I became a Bon Appétit fellow. In the United States today, about 40 percent of our produce is harvested by hand. The farmworkers who carry out this labor work in the most dangerous employment sector in the country, and do not enjoy the same protections that workers in all other sectors do. A child of just 12 years old can labor for eight hours in a scorching hot field, while they would never be […]

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For this year’s National Farmworker Awareness Week, Bon Appétit will be featuring a “Faces of Farmworkers” display in hundreds of cafés across the country and via social media, highlighting portraits and quotes gathered in the fields by Student Action with Farmworkers.

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As this year’s Farmworker Awareness Week approaches, hundreds of Bon Appétit cafés around the country are preparing to spread the word about how few pennies per pound farmworkers earn for commonly picked produce items, and 20 locations are hosting a screening of the documentary Food Chains.

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On Friday, the New York Times devoted front-page space to the amazing progress that our longtime partners the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has made toward fair treatment of farmworkers.