CIW honored with prestigious 2016 James Beard Leadership Award!



James Beard Foundation recognizes CIW co-founders Greg Asbed, Lucas Benitez, For their innovative work in forging a new human rights model in the food industry supply chain…”

Last week, the James Beard Foundation announced that it is recognizing CIW co-founders Greg Asbed and Lucas Benitez with its 2016 James Beard Annual Leadership Award!  

Each year, the Foundation, which resides at the cross section of the country’s culinary and food justice communities, “Celebrates visionaries responsible for creating a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world.”  This year, the Foundation chose six food movement leaders to receive the award.  Joining the CIW representatives in being honored are the Small World Institute’s Anna Lappé, author and activist Raj Patel, Connecticut Congressman Jim McGovern, and the National Black Farmers Association’s John Boyd, Jr.

Remarkably, this is not the Fair Food movement’s first brush with the James Beard Awards.  Readers of this site will recall that last year, “Food Chains” won the 2015 James Beard Award for Documentary Film.

Here is an excerpt from the James Beard Foundation’s press release from this past Wednesday:


Six Honorees Selected for the James Beard Foundation’s Sixth Annual Leadership Awards

Annual Awards Dinner Co-Hosted by Good Housekeeping Celebrates Visionaries Responsible for Creating a Healthier, Safer, and More Sustainable Food World

New York, NY (June 22, 2016) – The James Beard Foundation (JBF) today announced the recipients of the sixth annual James Beard Foundation Leadership Awards. This year’s honorees are: Greg Asbed and Lucas Benitez, John Boyd, Jr., Anna Lappé, Jim McGovern, and Raj Patel. The awards spotlight the important and complex realms of sustainability, food access, and public health. To bring awareness to such issues, each fall, in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation Food Conference, the nonprofit recognizes visionaries across a broad range of backgrounds who influence how, why, and what we eat.

“This year’s honorees are game-changers who have made an impact in improving childhood nutrition, fighting hunger, and promoting justice and equality in our food system,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “We are delighted to recognize these six visionaries as we celebrate our Foundation’s sixth annual Leadership Awards ceremony.”

The JBF Leadership Awards are co-hosted by Good Housekeeping, with founding support from the GRACE Communications Foundation, and will take place on October 17 at a dinner ceremony at Hearst Tower. The awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and lifetime achievement. Criteria used to select this year’s honorees include excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact either within a community or across the nation.

We are deeply humbled to share this recognition not only with our fellow honorees of 2016, but also with past recipients, an impressive list that includes national food movement leaders such as Wendell Berry, First Lady Michelle Obama, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Mark Bittman and dozens of other luminaries.  


The food movement has evolved and expanded at a dizzying pace in the past decade, and as reflected by the wide-ranging list of recipients of the 2016 JBF Leadership Award, it is clear that farmworkers’ and food workers’ basic human rights have become inseparable from the notion of sustainability that defines the country’s vision for the future of the food system. We want to thank the James Beard Foundation for this extraordinary recognition, which we accept on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and consumers alike who have fought for two decades to build – and grow – the Fair Food Program.

BREAKING: Hundreds of thousands of Unitarians worldwide endorse the Wendy’s Boycott!

“It is an honor to accompany such a creative and resilient movement whose influence is global and soulful…”This just in:  The Unitarian Universalist Association — representing several hundreds of thousands of Unitarians across the globe — has endorsed the Wendy’s boycott!  With yesterday’s formal announcement, the UUA becomes the third major religious body to endorse the boycott in the last month alone, following the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ.  The UUA was also joined by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, a grassroots human rights organization originally founded to combat Nazi persecution, in its endorsement.  Here is an excerpt from the announcement:The […]

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Got Milk with Dignity? Vermont’s Migrant Justice putting finishing touches on breakthrough dairy program…

From Florida tomatoes to Vermont dairy, Worker-driven Social Responsibility in the spotlight at food systems summit…Last week, members of the CIW, Migrant Justice, and the Fair Food Standards Council came together for a special presentation at the 5th Annual Vermont Food Systems Summit in Burlington.  The panel, titled “Worker-driven Social Responsibility for Fair Food,” brought together two unique perspectives.  While the CIW and FFSC unpacked important lessons from their five years of experience implementing the Fair Food Program in tomato fields from Florida to New Jersey, Migrant Justice brought a decidedly more local focus to the gathering of New England food […]

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“This Program should be everywhere…”

CIW Worker-to-Worker Education Team takes human rights on the road…One week ago, as workers plucked the last buckets of tomatoes from vines here in Florida and the sun set on the state’s 2015-2016 season, CIW education team members packed a van with their bags, boxes of education booklets and provisions for a week on the road, and headed north to Georgia and South and North Carolina.  The summer of 2016 marks the second season of the Fair Food Program’s expansion out of Florida and up the east coast to six new states, from Georgia, through South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and all the way to New Jersey.  And today, as the […]

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MEDIA ROUND-UP: Commentators across the World Wide Web take Publix, Wendy’s to task!

National news outlets, social media reflect growing wave of consumer action in Fair Food movement… Between the slew of endorsements and actions in the Wendy’s boycott, and the all-too-predictable headlines revealing systemic labor abuses in the fields of key Publix supplier Tomato Thyme, the Campaign for Fair Food has received its fair share of attention across the world wide web in the past several weeks, from news articles and editorials to social media.  And as any frequent reader of this site knows, that means that it’s about time for an Fair Food movement media round-up!Enjoy!Business leader in Miami Herald letter to the editor:  “I’ve been a loyal Publix […]

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Rabbi Barbara Penzner: “What is Nelson Peltz teaching his sons at their bar mitzvah celebration?…”

Jewish blog turns up heat on Wendy’s Board Chairman Nelson Peltz for lavish bar mitzvah, even as Peltz blocks better wages, working conditions for farmworkers at last week’s shareholder meeting…Nelson Peltz is a very wealthy man, one of the wealthiest people in the world, in fact.  As Chairman of Wendy’s Board of Directors and one of the company’s largest shareholders, Mr. Peltz is also one of Wendy’s top decision makers.  And Wendy’s is the only one of the country’s top five fast-food companies to decide — in 2016, after five years of unprecedented progress for farmworkers in Florida under the Fair Food Program — […]

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National boycott takes center stage at Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting!

Consumers to Wendy’s leadership, shareholders: “It is time for Wendy’s to commit to justice and human rights — to choose meaningful and verifiable rights protections for the workers who pick your tomatoes, rather than continue to uphold a meaningless code of conduct that allows slavery to flourish…”Last Thursday, the Fair Food Nation descended on Dublin, Ohio, the small midwestern town with a dubious claim to fame: Dublin is home to Wendy’s corporate headquarters, the nerve center of one of the world’s largest hamburger chains and the last fast-food holdout from the Fair Food Program.  Last week, Wendy’s held its annual shareholder […]

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BREAKING: United Church of Christ, representing one million followers, endorses Wendy’s boycott!

“Wendy’s has turned its back on successful efforts in Florida to protect workers’ basic human rights and has moved its supply chain to Mexico where human rights abuses are rampant…”Joining the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, the United Church of Christ has, once again, taken a stand alongside farmworkers and formally endorsed the Wendy’s boycott.  In a sweeping resolution, the UCC, which represents over 1 million worshippers in the United States, affirmed the just cause of farmworkers fighting for dignity in the fields, and condemned Wendy’s for its stubborn refusal to support those efforts.In announcing the […]

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Rev. April Blaine speaking at a rally in front of Wendy

“As people of faith… we pledge to join the boycott of Wendy’s until Wendy’s commits to justice for the workers that make your profits possible.”

Major religious leaders from more than 12 faith traditions call out Wendy’s leadership in searing letter…Adding to the growing drumbeat of support from the faith community, over twenty powerful religious leaders have penned an open letter to Wendy’s leadership, just ahead of tomorrow’s shareholder meeting in Ohio.  Unequivocal in their support for the Fair Food Program and the new era of human rights for farmworkers it has delivered, denominational presidents, bishops, ministers, rabbis and authors are standing together to urge Wendy’s leadership to get with the Program. From their positions within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, […]

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OSU students outside Wendy

CALL TO ACTION: National Wendy’s Call-in Day this Wednesday, 5/25, as farmworkers, allies prepare to protest at Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting!

THIS WEEK: Call (614)-764-3327 and give Wendy’s a piece of your mind on Wednesday ahead of major action outside of Thursday shareholder meeting!Three years ago in New York, a Wendy’s shareholder, Mr. Bradford L. Grazier — who had received his first shares of the major hamburger chain over fifty years before — stood up in the annual shareholder meeting to address then-CEO Emil Brolick, saying:“Honestly, the potential bad publicity between the folks here and outside on the street does not do our company much good. I’m wondering what the downside is of signing the darn agreement and doing something that I think would make a […]

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1.4 million reasons why Publix should join the Fair Food Program…

Top Publix tomato supplier fined $1.4 million by Department of Labor, ordered to pay $150,000 in back wages; DOL: “Red Diamond Farms and its owner willfully disobeyed federal labor laws and exploited vulnerable, low-wage workers. These actions are unacceptable.”We’ll begin this post with a bit of history:“If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business.”Those were the words of Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens back in December, 2010, in response to questions from the press about the discovery of a brutal farm labor slavery operation in Publix’s suppliers’ fields.  Mr. Stevens went on to add:“Maybe it’s something the government should get involved with.”The government […]

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Signed, sealed, delivered! 300+ Jewish leaders endorse Wendy’s boycott in stinging letter to Nelson Peltz…

Jewish leaders to Wendy’s: “Better wages and human rights are non-negotiable ingredients of a just, sustainable food industry…”Following the launch of the Wendy’s boycott in March, staunch Fair Food ally T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights — an organization that has been a leader in the Wendy’s campaign since its launch in 2013 — put out a call to its individual members to join the organization’s endorsement of the boycott.  Unsurprisingly, the animated network of Jewish human rights leaders answered the call with a resounding Yes!  Since March, over 300 members of T’ruah — as well as scores of members of the Massachusetts Board of […]

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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), representing millions, becomes the first major Christian denomination to endorse the Wendy’s boycott!

“We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in their longstanding struggle for fair labor practices in the agriculture industry …”In an historic act of support, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) moved last week to endorse the boycott of Wendy’s, becoming the first major Christian denomination to formally commit to carry forward the boycott until Wendy’s joins the CIW’s Fair Food Program!Representing nearly 2 million Christians nationwide, the church has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the CIW since the earliest days of the Campaign for Fair Food.  Over the past several months as the CIW’s Wendy’s campaign evolved into a national boycott, the […]

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LIVE: Official new Wendy’s Boycott website up and running, including a call for endorsements!

Resources, action ideas, and more now online at the beautiful new boycott website…While Fair Food activists were taking to the streets in cities across the country during the Month of Outrage in April, back here in Immokalee the online action hub for the Wendy’s boycott was quietly being built, pulling together all the resources necessary for tens of thousands of consumers to make their voices heard in the Wendy’s campaign.  And this week, the beautiful new site is ready for its debut!Front and center on the new site: Pledge to join the boycott!  If your name is not yet on the list, make sure to […]

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Rabbi takes to blogosphere to endorse Wendy’s boycott, issue moral call to action in Jewish community…

“We may come to understand that a boycott, like the plagues, is an enactment of a truth: dramatic demonstrations of might and power and determination are often required before we can break free…”Following the example of his fellow faith leaders, Rabbi Jacob Lieberman — another member of the growing legion of tomato rabbis — took up his pen to issue a powerful call to action in the Wendy’s Boycott late last month.  Equal parts theological reflection and inspirational rallying cry, Rabbi Lieberman’s editorial likened the CIW’s struggle for human rights in the fields today to the Jewish people’s “exit from the physical and spiritual oppression of forced […]

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Huffington Post: “Farm Workers Are Taking On Poor Pay And Conditions — And Winning”

In-depth article lifts up unprecedented success of Fair Food Program, Worker-driven Social Responsibility as the “model that’s going forward…”Last week, amidst all the April buzz around the Wendy’s boycott, the Fair Food Program and the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model that underlies its success were the subject of the newest chapter in the Huffington Post’s Farming in America series. Hailing the FFP as the long-awaited solution to the grinding poverty and powerlessness that farmworkers have faced for decades, the article draws on industry experts as well as workers at the ground level to discuss the unparalleled impact of the Program in Florida […]

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