Socially responsible food service provider takes ethical sourcing beyond the plate
Palo Alto, CA (October 11, 2011) —When most people think of Fair Trade, they think bananas, coffee, or tea. However, cotton is one of the largest commodity crops in the world, and it touches the lives of far more farmers. Fair Trade cotton has been available in the United States since 2005, but only recently has the problem of sweatshops in the garment trade been addressed by Fair Trade certification of both the farms that produce the cotton for the garments and the factories that sew them.
Bon Appétit Management Company, long known for its ethical sourcing and more recently for its support of farmworkers, has just supplied Fair Trade Certified™ shirts to student employees through a pilot program in two of its university cafés. The new commitment was timed to honor Fair Trade Month in October.
If successful, the project will expand in 2012 to front-of-the-house employees in other Bon Appétit Management Company cafés. Managers will have the option of choosing Fair Trade aprons and shirts in a variety of colors, and with a slogan that reads, “Organic, Fair Trade…This Uniform is Ethically Delicious!”
The t-shirts will be certified Fair Trade by Fair Trade USA, the country’s leading independent, third-party certifier in this area. The garment certification encompasses the entire supply chain, from farm to factory. Fair Trade USA verifies that farmers receive a minimum price for their cotton that covers the cost of environmentally sustainable production and also receive premiums (based on a percentage of sales) to use for community projects. In an industry first, Fair Trade USA’s certification makes factory owners accountable to workers by training workers in their rights and providing channels for airing grievances. Garment workers also receive a 10% premium on the factory price of each garment.
“Bon Appétit’s commitment is a potential game-changer for cotton farmers and factory workers. As the first company in the world to purchase full supply-chain Fair Trade Certified™ uniforms, their potential impact on workers’ lives is significant,” said Heather Franzese, director of new businesses, Fair Trade USA Apparel and Linens. “I just visited the Rajlakshmi Cotton Mills in India, which produces the Fair Trade t-shirts. The workers’ first question to me was, ‘How can we get more Fair Trade orders?’ One of their goals through increased Fair Trade orders is to earn an extra month’s pay for all workers. This initiative from Bon Appétit could help them achieve this dream.”
Bon Appétit Management Company is known for using its buying power to address environmental, social, and economic problems in the food system. The Fair Trade uniform initiative grew out of the company’s commitment to confront the conditions under which U.S. farmworkers toil. In spring 2011, the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation released The Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the United States, in partnership with the United Farm Workers (UFW) and with the support of Oxfam America. On October 14, 2011, the Foundation will sponsorTEDxFruitvale, a high-profile conference that will celebrate those who pick this country’s food, tie the agricultural labor movement to other social-justice movements, and explore fair-labor practices in business.
“As with food, it’s hard to follow the thread of fair labor back to its source in a cotton field — too often, the whole effort unravels,” said Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company. “We’re proud to be the first company to purchase Fair Trade Certified™ uniforms for our employees. We believe that the workers who grew the cotton and made the clothes deserve the same respect as the people in our kitchens and cafés.”
About Bon Appétit Management Company
Bon Appétit Management Company (www.bamco.com) is an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 31 states, including eBay, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Center. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, cage-free eggs, the connection between food and climate change, and, most recently, farmworker welfare. The company has received numerous awards for its work from organizations such as the James Beard Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, The Humane Society of the United States, and Food Alliance. Its dining operations at Wheaton College in Illinois were recently voted Best College Food by 122,000 college students surveyed by the Princeton Review.
Contact: Bonnie Azab Powell, [email protected], (650) 621-0871