BREAKING:  OSU students, Columbus community announce weeklong fast in lead up to Return to Human Rights Tour!

Hundreds of Fair Food supporters joined the Workers’ Voice Tour in a march through Columbus, Ohio, last year.

“We are fasting in solidarity with farmworkers who have had to go hungry while harvesting the food we all eat because of Wendy’s indifference to their exploitation…”

Just this morning, members of Ohio Fair Food — including students at The Ohio State University as well as Columbus, Ohio, community leaders — announced that they will be launching a weeklong fast on March 20th, in a major escalation of the Wendy’s boycott.

How did we get here?  Two years ago, students on the campus of The Ohio State University launched a campaign to “Boot the Braids,” holding their university accountable to its own purported commitment to real social responsibility by calling on OSU to cut its contract with Wendy’s unless the fast-food giant joined the Fair Food Program.  But in spite of assurances and public promises from OSU’s President Michael Drake that the university would cut Wendy’s contract if the fast-food chain failed to meet the criteria set out by OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance, the university extended its contract with Wendy’s late last year, and the students, feeling that their trust had been betrayed, decided to take action.

Meanwhile, across the city of Columbus, community members have spent years mobilizing alongside farmworkers from Immokalee — and years chipping away at Wendy’s resistance to worker-driven social responsibility.  Despite massive marches pouring through the streets of Columbus and nearby Dublin — home to the sprawling Wendy’s corporate headquarters — year after year, the fast food chain has stubbornly ignored the rising drumbeat of pressure from their own neighbors to do the right thing and join the Fair Food Program.  Now, like the students on campus, residents of the city of Columbus have had enough.

Today, Ohio Fair Food and OSU students are joining forces to say, enough is enough!  Here is an excerpt from their announcement (you can find the announcement in full here):

Columbus community to launch fast, calling for farmworker justice, human rights for all, from fastfood giant Wendy’s:  We’d rather go hungry than eat fast-food from Wendy’s that exploits farmworkers.

On March 20th, Columbus-based Ohio Fair Food will launch a weeklong fast outside of the headquarters of the local fast food giant, Wendy’s.  We will be fasting to demand that Wendy’s respect the fundamental human rights of farmworkers in their supply chain by joining the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program.  We are fasting in solidarity with farmworkers who have had to go hungry while harvesting the food we all eat because of Wendy’s indifference to their exploitation.  We are fasting in a long tradition of taking peaceful action to make clear the responsibility Wendy’s has to their hometown of Columbus.  On March 24th, we will receive CIW members as they arrive to Columbus for the  Return to Human Rights Tour, a national mobilization to demand dignity for farmworkers and lift up struggles for human rights across the nation.

It has been four years since farmworkers and consumers launched a public campaign against Wendy’s.  But rather than respond to our demand to join CIW’s award-winning Fair Food Program, Wendy’s decided to move their purchases to Mexico, where child labor, sexual violence, modern-day slavery, and other human rights abuses are endemic and go effectively unchecked.  Wendy’s cynically offers consumers the fig leaf of a corporate Code of Conduct –devoid of any actual enforcement or worker participation — as an alternative to the verifiable, worker-led protections of the Fair Food Program, a program recognized as the gold standard for social responsibility today for its unique success in addressing and preventing abuses in the agriculture industry…

… To reshape our city’s politics and win human rights for farmworkers, we need Wendy’s to take responsibility for their impact in the communities where they do business.  This spring, we must hold Wendy’s accountable and demand that they join the Fair Food Program once and for all.

With our fast, we are asking ourselves and our community, “What are we are really hungry for?”  We are fasting for farmworker justice. We are fasting to show those in power who attempt to wait us out, who stall until we are tired and out of resources, that they can’t starve our movement.

Our fast will begin on Monday, March 20th. Throughout the week, we will be fasting with a presence at Wendy’s Headquarters and with students on Ohio State’s campus, where the administration continues to stall on fulfilling its own promise to students to terminate OSU’s contract with Wendy’s unless it joined the Fair Food Program.

And we are inviting you to join us.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers tour bus will reach Dublin on March 24 at 3:30 p.m., joining forces with fasters and Columbus-area allies for a powerful vigil outside of Wendy’s Headquarters.  We will break our fast on Sunday, March 26, along with thousands of farmworkers, Columbus-area allies and people convening from across the country will march in the Parade for Human Rights, which begins in Goodale Park at 1:00 p.m.

Join us in showing Wendy’s that they can’t starve our movement. It’s time for us to come together in our fight for dignity, justice, liberation: human rights for all.

Email us at OhioForFairFood@gmail.com to get involved!

Stay tuned for more on the fast, and the upcoming Return to Human Rights Tour!

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