TODAY: 19 students from Ohio State University, community members from Columbus launch weeklong fast!

Student/Farmworker Alliance:  OSU students, Columbus community launch national call for solidarity as they begin weeklong fast to Boot the Braids!

Earlier this month, we shared a breaking announcement of a major escalation in the Wendy’s Boycott:  Students from The Ohio State University and community members from across Columbus declared that they would launch a weeklong fast in the lead up to the Parade for Fair Food on March 26th.

Today, those dedicated students and allies are launching their fast, and in so doing they are launching perhaps the most powerful action to date in the national Wendy’s boycott.  These 19 fasters will be bringing the demand for farmworker justice both to the doorstep of OSU President Michael Drake and to the Wendy’s Headquarters itself, with the moral force of nonviolent action that has shaped movements for social change for over a century.

Here are excerpts from a breaking update from the Student/Farmworker Alliance, including a call to action for students and young people across the country to support the fasters (check out the full call to action here):

Last night, 19 students from The Ohio State University and Columbus community members gathered in a small room to break bread together one last time before embarking on a week-long fast for farmworker justice.  

As the Return to Human Rights Tour makes its way through the Midwest, members of OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance, Real Food OSU, and Ohio Fair Food will go without food for one week to demand that Wendy’s commit to human rights for farmworkers by joining the Fair Food Program — and to demand that OSU abide by their contractual promise to end the university’s lease with Wendy’s should the corporation not satisfy the concerns of the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance.  

Over homemade soup and fresh bread, fasters heard from Julia de la Cruz and Santiago Perez of the CIW, who participated in the CIW’s 2012 Fast for Fair Food, and shared their hopes to deepen solidarity with farmworkers and find new wells of strength for their movement.  Over the course of the evening, the room filled with the power of the many fasts and hunger strikes of CIW and SFA’s history and those of other movements for farmworker justice — sacrifices that have given birth to new realities of dignity and human rights once only imagined. Each victory of the past is a promise that the fast that launches today brings us closer and closer to an agriculture industry where all may work free from abuse.

As the only major fast food chain that has refused to join the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s continues to take the low road when it comes to human rights violations in its supply chain; its recently updated Code of Conduct still lacks the enforcement mechanisms and participation of workers themselves integral to the Fair Food Program and necessary to ensure workers are treated fairly.

“From past meetings between administration and the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance, the university already knows this,” said Ben Wibking, a member of OSU SFA. “Ohio State has had years leading up to this point to negotiate and gather information from Wendy’s, and it’s time our school keeps its promise and ends the contract.” […]

[…]  By fasting, the group will walk in the footsteps of thousands of other workers and students who have fought for and won better working conditions in the movement for Fair Food — and they are are launching a national call for solidarity for students and young people to show up like never before.  

You can help OSU SFA and Real Food OSU build toward a victory in the Boot the Braids campaign by showing your support in the following ways:

  • Fast for a day in solidarity with OSU student and Columbus community members

  • Send photo petitions to President Drake in solidarity with the fast, include where you’re based, and why this is important to you

  • Write your own reflections and messages of support to fasters

  • Mobilize your campus or community to join hundreds at the Parade for Human Rights on March 26 (ending at the OSU campus)

Not only will fasters be receiving waves of support from students and youth, but also from people of faith and conscience across the Alliance for Fair Food network. Just last week, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) penned a powerful letter in solidarity with the OSU student fast and invited Presbyterians  to participate in AFF’s National Day of Prayer and Fasting on Friday, March 24 as the CIW arrives to Columbus to kick off the culminating weekend of action. 

Get in touch with us at organize@sfalliance.org if you’ll be supporting the Boot the Braids fast in any way, and stay tuned for reports from the Return to Human Rights Tour stops in Nashville and Minneapolis coming soon!

Meanwhile, the Fair Food Nation’s faith community is building on the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.’s commitment, announced last week, to supporting the OSU students’ weeklong fast and also to bring their own moral weight to bear!  Here is the call to action from the Alliance for Fair Food, published this morning:

TAKE ACTION: Wendy’s Boycott National Day of Prayer and Fasting on Friday, March 24

… Support for the Wendy’s Boycott National Day of Prayer and Fasting:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued a statement on March 15th expressing the church’s strong support of the student fast at OSU. From the article on presbyterianmission.org: “We are encouraging Presbyterians around the country to pray for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the fasters in Columbus on March 24, the National Day of Prayer and Fasting,” added the Rev. Rebecca Barnes, coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.”

People across the Alliance for Fair Food are called on to participate in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting by committing to a full or partial fast on Friday, March 24 to the struggle of farmworkers and allies who hunger for justice from Wendy’s, the only major fast food chain still not participating in the CIW’s Fair Food Program.

We urge you to amplify your prayers and fasting by writing a letter about your action to Todd Penegor, Wendy’s CEO at 1 Dave Thomas Boulevard, Dublin, OH 43017. Then, please document your actions on social media (#BoycottWendys, @Wendys, #FairFoodProgram) or a local publication to share the news of the Wendy’s Boycott with your community! And finally – if you’re able to join us in Columbus on Sunday, March 26, for the Parade for Human Rights ending on OSU’s campus, register your participation today!

Let us know how you’ll be participating in the National Day of Prayer and Fasting on Friday, March 24 by filling out the form below, and stay tuned for reports from the Return to Human Rights Tour stops on our way to Columbus!

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