A hard rain’s gonna fall…

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CIW's 40-member Central Committee at a meeting last Sunday evening

CIW’s 40-member Central Committee gathered last Sunday evening to finalize plans and review the route for the March 2-12 Workers’ Voice Tour.

Mobilizing for Workers’ Voice Tour in full swing from Immokalee to Columbus, as the Fair Food Nation readies for a spring action to remember!

For several weeks now, CIW members and Alliance for Fair Food staff have been hard at work in cities from Gainesville to NYC, setting up base camps at all the major stops of the Workers’ Voice Tour and spreading the word of the upcoming action with countless Fair Food supporters, both old and new.  The advance teams have begun to send dispatches from the organizing front to share news of their efforts, and we’ve compiled a series of short reports to give you just a taste of the mobilizing going on 24/7 ahead of next month’s big tour.

First up, right here in Immokalee, dozens of CIW members are readying to pack their bags and hop on the bus for the full multi-state tour.  Just this past Sunday, the CIW’s Central Committee — a body of the organization’s most active members who assemble each season to drive the Campaign for Fair Food — gathered on Valentine’s Day for an in-depth planning meeting for the upcoming Tour.

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North of Immokalee in Orlando, Florida — a longtime home base for Fair Food — the advance team has undertaken a sweeping tour of all three major colleges and universities in the Orlando area — Rollins College, Stetson University and the University of Central Florida.  One evening alone at Stetson College, 40+ university students settled in to watch the James Beard Award-winning documentary “Food Chains.”

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During a post-film discussion with CIW’s Lupe Gonzalo and Daniel Cooper Bermudez (above), Stetson students shared their shock at Wendy’s unconscionable decision to turn its back on not only farmworkers in the company’s supply chain, but on the very growers who have been key partners in the transformation of the Florida tomato industry under the Fair Food Program.  Outraged at Wendy’s total withdrawal from the Florida tomato industry, student after student signed up to head to the major action in Palm Beach on March 12th.

In the great state of New York, CIW’s Julia de la Cruz and AFF’s Patricia Cipollitti trekked up to the beautiful Stony Point Center in Rockland County, NY, to visit long-time CIW allies of the Hudson River Presbytery.  After learning about maple syrup production and the art of tapping maple trees with the food justice group at Stony Point (below), the Immokalee team warmed up with a lively presentation and discussion about the remarkable changes brought about under the Fair Food Program, and the rapid expansion of those changes to other crops and states.  Energized by the visit, the group was excited to spread the word about the upcoming Workers’ Voice Tour and hop on the Westchester and Rockland bus heading down to the NYC action on March 3rd.

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Over in Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio, the advance team was greeted with open arms — and high spirits — by the indefatigable Ohio Fair Food.  In addition to many late-night meetings around the big action set for March 6th in Columbus (below), the group has been hard at work creating art, hitting streets with flyers and posters, and getting the word out in the Columbus community

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Columbus wasn’t the only Ohio town to feel the advance team’s warmth.  The CIW’s Santiago Perez (far right below), joined by AFF staff, met with the InterReligious Task Force on Central America during its Annual Social Justice Teach-in in Cleveland, Ohio.  Santiago gave a presentation to dozens of Case Western students and community members, many of whom enthusiastically committed to hopping into the IRTF caravan from Cleveland to Columbus.

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That’s a wrap… for now!  Stay tuned for more updates in the week ahead for a sneak peak at the beautiful tour artwork as well as a full list of the national caravans that will be converging on Columbus and Palm Beach in just a few short weeks!