U.S. Mayors endorse Fair Food Program, call on more buyers to join!

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275+ Mayors pass unanimous resolution: “Recognizing the Accomplishments of the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers and Calling for Awareness and Action to Address Issues Within the U.S. Farm Labor System”…

Between reports from an action-filled summer in the Campaign for Fair Food, we have a brief but truly exciting news flash from one of the Fair Food Program’s newest group of supporters: Mayors of U.S. cities from coast to coast!

Last weekend in San Francisco, more than 275 mayors from across the United States held their annual conference to discuss the most pressing issues of today, tackling everything from encouraging classroom technology to invigorating small businesses and revitalizing public parks.  This year, amidst the growing national interest in food and the food system, that list included the poverty and powerlessness faced by the nation’s farmworkers, and also the most widely-recognized solution to the problem, the Fair Food Program.

Inspired by the James Beard Award-winning documentary “Food Chains,” Mayor Paul Soglin of Madison hosted a panel on farm labor with Damara Luce of the Alliance for Fair Food, and Heidi Nel from the “Food Chains” team.  In addition to the mayors in attendance, some of the most influential food policy experts in the country attended the conference (not to mention former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who happens to know a bit about the Fair Food Program herself!).  Clearly, the powerful documentary film and subsequent panel left quite an impression:  As the Conference drew to a close, the mayors voted unanimously to issue a proclamation recognizing the incredible impact of the Fair Food Program and the power of “Food Chains” to spark public conversation as well as action:

US_Mayors_Conference_2015

Recognizing the Accomplishments of the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers and Calling for Awareness and Action to Address Issues Within the U.S. Farm Labor System

WHEREAS, the film Food Chains brought the strife of Florida tomato pickers to the attention of the country by documenting the poor conditions of labor; and

WHEREAS, the film also demonstrated the brave efforts of a community-based organization in Southwest Florida, called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to improve wages and working conditions by taking the fight to retailers; […] 

[…] NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors recognizes the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Southwest Florida to improve farm labor wages and conditions of tomato pickers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors recognizes the producers, director, and staff that contributed to the production of the film Food Chains that helped raise awareness of the deep issues within the farm labor system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors recognizes the efforts of Wal-Mart to acknowledge the importance of an adequate wage for food producers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges other major retailers to follow the lead of Wal-Mart in considering the conditions of farm workers at the locations from which their produce is originating;

(You can read the full resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors website.)

The initiative to thank farmworkers was the first resolution of its kind in the history of the US Conference of Mayors and was led by Paul Soglin (pictured below), Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin

Here in Immokalee, we couldn’t be more pleased by the mayors’ resolution and their collective recognition of the Fair Food Program, but what’s even more encouraging is the fact that their commitment to advancing the program by no means ends with passing this ringing endorsement.  Rather, there is much more in the works in the months and years ahead to bring cities across the country on board as purchasers and supporters of the FFP, especially if Mayor Soglin has anything to do about it.  Even before the ink had a chance to dry on the historic resolution, Mayor Soglin and his staff reached out to the CIW to discuss concrete strategies for the road ahead!

Our sincerest thanks go out to the authors of the mayors’ resolution and to all the mayors who voted to support the call for Fair Food.  We look forward to working together to turn this powerful endorsement into action in cities from New York to San Francisco!

 

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