Words of support for the fast

Read all the messages of support for the fasters from faith, student, and community allies from across the country here!

Previous Days' Updates: Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four

Photo Galleries: Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six

March 8, 2012

Day Five UpdatE

For more CIW media and press from Day Five, click here

Day five Photo Report


We are going to depart from our usual Photo Report form for Day Five and instead post a collection photos without description, a sort of "Postcards from the Fast," providing you portraits that capture the day's events and the people fo the Fast and allowing you to piece together the narrative as you go.


CIW Media

Check back soon for video!

Press Coverage

March 9, 2012

Day Four UpdatE

For more CIW media and press from Day Four, click here

Day four Photo Report


March 8th was International Women's Day, a global day of recognition and celebration of women's rights and equal participation in the social, cultural, and economic lives of the countries in which they live. It was born in the early years of the 1900's and had its roots in the suffragette movement as well as the labor movement's efforts to win fair wages and dignified conditions for working women, a movement exemplified by the Bread and Roses strike of 1912.

Given the resonance of those struggles with the Fast for Fair Food, it was only natural that March 8th -- Day Four of the Fast for Fair Food -- would see the fasters' own commemoration of International Women's Day, as they celebrated the contributions of women throughout history and of those women building new rights today for farmworkers, men and women, through the Campaign for Fair Food.

Pastor Miguel Estrada from Mision Peniel in Immokalee got the reflection started when he asked others in the Day Four Prayer Circle to name women who had made significant contributions to social progress.

Fasters stood and shouted out dozens of names, from Rigoberta Menchu and Sojourner Truth to "our mothers and grandmothers, because we are making history today!" Here, Maggie Martin of Iraq Vetrans Against the War (IVAW) stands to make a contribution to the list. Maggie has been fasting all week with CIW members and recently wrote a beautiful statement to her fellow IVAW members about her experience at the Fast, which you can find here.

But the discussion really took off when Nely Rodriguez of the CIW stood up to talk about the sacrifices farmworker women make every day just to put food on their families' tables and to protect and guide their children through all the challenges and obstacles that the life in a family of farmworkers puts in their way. Nely talked of the pain of waking your children well before dawn and leaving them with others while you searched for dayhaul labor in the fields, of the time that should be spent teaching and raising your children that is lost to 12-hour days picking vegetables, of the indignities visited daily on women in the fields. And as she spoke...

... the fasters listened. Her words left few dry eyes around the circle.

The day's reflection infused the fasters with a profound sense of determination to carry on the struggle of those who came before them, to continue the fight to expand women's -- and all workers' -- rights in the fields.

And as the Day Four prayer circle wrapped up, the fasters and their allies went back to work, ready for whatever the fast would bring that day, fueled with the joy of knowing that they are on the front lines in the fight for dignity and human rights.

CIW Media


Press Coverage

March 8, 2012

Day three UpdatE

Day three Photo Report

Day Two ended with another candlelight vigil in the unseasonable March cold, attended by many Lakeland residents, among them a notable group from nearby George Jenkins High School, (named for Publix's founder) that included members of the administration, teaching staff, a student class president and recent homecoming queen. As it turned out, however, the weather was not the only thing that was unnaturally cold last night.


A delegation from the vigil -- comprised of religious leaders, including three rabbis from around the state of Florida who traveled to Lakeland to support the Fast, local pastors, and CIW and student representatives -- was rudely turned away from talking to the store manager by Publix corporate representatives, prompting one religious leader from the delegation to declare that he had never been treated so "condescendingly" in his life (above, right, Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei from Miami and Nely Rodriguez, center, of the CIW are rebuffed by a Publix representative).

Day Three was another day of presence, sunrise to sunset, outside Publix headquarters. And another day of seeking dialogue with a unwilling -- and unneighborly -- partner.

The morning prayer circle was particularly inspirational on Day Three, perhaps a reflection of the deepening spiritual and physical impact of the Fast on the fasters themselves. Here, a cameraman -- who moonlights as an accomplished musician -- with the documentary crew filming the Fast puts down his camera and plays "Amazing Grace" for the circle...

... while here the fasters receive their daily blessing from Reverend Livingston of the NCC (left, and himself a fellow faster) and Pastor Erwin Lopez of The Good Shepherd United Methodist Church of Lakeland (who would rock the fasters later that afternoon with some strong Christian rap).

The Day Three prayer circle was distinguished, as well, by the powerful message of support delivered by the Rev. Graham Hart, general presbyter of Peace River Presbytery (first from the right above). He spoke of the "change of heart" that must take place within those men and women who lead Publix if justice is to be done in Florida's fields, and how the fasters' sacrifice is the business of the church, because it "creates a space to change the heart," concluding: "After all, isn’t God in the transformation business? And so we hope and pray."

Following the prayer circle, the flame that has accompanied the fasters throughout the week was carried back to the Fast site...

... where the fasters spent the rest of the day learning from one another in a mix of workshops -- like this one above, a discussion on the intersection of faith and justice among three of the pastors taking part in the Fast -- the reading of messages of support coming in to the site from around the country, and musical interludes provided by the growing number of incredible musicians in and around the Fast...

... all of which kept the fasters engaged and their spirits high throughout the day.

Lunch hour for Publix employees meant another silent vigil at the headquarters exits, reminding Publix of where its tomatoes -- and its profits -- come from. Interestingly, the entranceway vigils seem to be having an effect. As the week goes by, the stony faces of the first day are slowly giving way to more and more waves and smiles of recognition from individual Publix employees coming and going from the headquarters. The Fast has become a topic of discussion throughout the Lakeland community, from churches to schools to restaurants and even Publix's facebook page, where talk of "pancake week" has been shoved aside by a lively debate on the Fast and Publix's refusal to support the Fair Food Program. Try as they might, Publix executives can't keep that discussion from working its way into the headquarters, where individual belief in justice and fairness clashes with corporate pride and the perceived need for absolute control.

Back at the Fast site, the long hours of Day Three and the cumulative effects of the Fast started to show on some of the fasters' faces...

... but despite the momentary ebbs in energy experienced by all throughout the day, spirits never waned, and the fasters readied in the afternoon for what would be an epic vigil at another Publix store in the evening of Day Three. Check back tomorrow for an update from the vigil and from Day Four, and don't miss the photo gallery from Day Three!

Day Three Video

March 7, 2012

Day two UpdatE

For more CIW media and press from Day two, click here

Day two Photo Report


Before we begin the Day Two photo report, we have some unfinished business to tend to from Day One -- the deeply moving candlelight vigil outside one of Publix's flagship stores near downtown Lakeland that capped off the first day of the Fast.


Several local families, kids included, were moved by the fasters' sacrifice to join the vigil, where they were treated to a reflection by the Reverend Larry Rankin, a retired United Methodist pastor from right here in Lakeland. Rev. Rankin's words drew out the deep connections between the families who buy tomatoes at Publix with the families who pick tomatoes for Publix in this common struggle for justice.

One Lakeland family (right) present at the vigil truly exemplified the commitment to justice at the heart of the Fast, with two generations -- one, a mother and a teacher at George Jenkins High School (George Jenkins was the founder of Publix), the other her daughter, a former student at George Jenkins and now in college at Tampa -- taking part in all six days of the Fast for Fair Food.

Day Two began as did Day One, with an early morning prayer circle...

... followed by a silent vigil at the entrance to Publix's corporate headquarters.

The fasters were met with stony silence by many of the Publix employees arriving for work, a silence the fasters know will one day be replaced by the open and creative dialogue of partnership...

... a partnership that one faster took up pencil and paper to imagine -- a future of mutual respect and collaboration between workers and the corporate buyers of tomatoes for a more humane food industry -- as the morning's buzz of activity gave way to the slower, more reflective hours of the day.

The fasters took advantage of the daytime hours to study and find inspiration to fuel their sacrifice, whether it be from a very old Book...

... or a very new paper (the morning's Lakeland Ledger, in this case, carrying coverage of Day One on the front page, above the fold, with a large color photograph...).

While the long hours fasting provided time for reflection, the work of the fast had to go on, as well. Here the media team discusses strategy for countering Publilx's disinformation on the Fair Food Program (more on that soon...).

Visitors to the site raised the fasters' spirits throughout the day, including Father Stephan Brown from St. Leo University...

... and none other than Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland, and a longtime observer of the Campaign for Fair Food.

The fasters also made their own entertainment to keep the energy high, blessed as they are with a number of great musicians, including Olmeca, above, whose spirit of shared struggle with workers in Immokalee has driven more than a decade of creative collaboration -- and social change -- from LA to Chicago. You're next, Lakeland!

CIW Media

Press Coverage

  • WCTV Tallahassee "Protesters to Publix: Support Fair Wages for Farmworkers," 3/6/12:

  • Emory Wheel "Fasting to Support the Rights of Workers", 3/6/12

    "By fasting, we urge Publix to commit an extra cent per pound of tomatoes it buys and to refuse business with farms that employ slave labor. With an annual revenue of about $25 billion, Publix can afford the sacrifice.

    Publix has refused to negotiate with members of the CIW for more than two years, even as its competitors like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have signed on to Fair Food Agreements. Publix even fails to recognize it has a problem. In 2010, Publix spokesperson Dwaine Stevens responded to a CIW protest in Alabama by saying, “If there are some atrocities going on, it’s not our business.”

    But certainly Charles Jenkins, Jr., an Emory alum and current member of Emory’s Board of Trustees, should care about the ethical engagement of Publix, where he serves as the chairman of the Board. In fact, his father, George Jenkins, founded Publix in the spirit of the motto: “Don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing.” With our peaceful hunger strike, we hope that we can compel Charles Jenkins, Jr., and other Publix executives to do the right thing by securing justice and dignity for farmworkers in Florida."

March 5, 2012

Day One Update

For more CIW media and press from Day One, click here

Day One Photo Report

Day One began shortly after dawn as the fasters and supporters gathered in prayer outside Publix corporate headquarters...

The Reverend Robert Moses of St. David's Episcopal Church of Lakeland was one of several clergy who joined the fasters for the interfaith launch ceremony and provided much needed inspiration for the journey ahead.

From left to right, Marley Moynahan of Georgetown University and DC Fair Food, Gerardo Reyes of the CIW, and the Reverend Michael Livingston of the National Council of Churches -- together representing the student, worker, and faith communities that make up the Campaign for Fair Food -- join hands in lighting the flame that will remain lit throughout the six-day fast.

The opening ceremony complete, fasters took up their positions in front of Publix headquarters for the long day -- and week -- ahead...

Their message was received with honks and cheers from the passing cars...

... a message so simple -- I, too, am human -- as to be timeless...

... a message so powerful that only the hardest of hearts could shut it out.

Publix employees took in the unusual sight of dozens of fasters lining the drive into the otherwise placid corporate park as they arrived for work. Though several slowed to read the signs and smiled at the fasters as the drove by...

... none accepted the implicit invitation to dialogue behind the signs that captured the fasters' call on Publix to recognize their humanity.

As the morning chill gave way to a day full of sun and blue skies, fasters' spirits were lifted by music -- made for and by the fasters themselves -- ...

... and by the support that came their way, including this beautiful Lakeland family that not only made their own signs with red and green felt (and some very special, tomato-shaped hair accessories, also made of felt by a very special little girl!), but one of whom, Pablo, joined the fast and pledged to spend the entire week in solidarity with the fasters at the site.

But as the sun set on Day One, the most important visitors never arrived. Chairs left empty for Publix representatives to sit in dialogue with workers from Immokalee and Publix customers calling for Publix to join the Fair Food Program remained empty, and, following a candlelight vigil outside a storied Publix store in the heart of Lakeland, the fasters began preparations for Day Two of the Fast for Fair Food.

CIW Media

Press Coverage

  • Tampa Bay News 10, "Dozens of farmworkers fast, protest at Publix headquarters planned for six days," 3/5/12:

  • Lakeland Ledger, "Immokalee workers take protest to Publix headquarters," 3/6/12

    "LAKELAND — More than 100 people, including Immokalee tomato workers and supporters wearing blue, white or gold armbands, lined the entrance of Publix Corporate Parkway on the first day of a six-day fast to get Publix Super Markets Inc.'s attention.


    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their supporters want the Lakeland-based company to end what they call "disingenuous rhetoric" and sign the coalition's Fair Food Agreement. Under the agreement, Publix would pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes harvested by the Immokalee workers...


    ... Publix has said on numerous occasions this is a labor dispute between the farmworkers and their employers, and it doesn't want to be dragged into it.


    "We have a long history of not intervening in those disputes," Patten said, reiterating that the company is willing to pay the extra penny per pound if included in the price of the tomatoes.


    But the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its supporters, including members of the National Council of Churches, local religious leaders and students, are dissatisfied with Publix's position.


    "We want to see Ed Crenshaw answer the phone and say, 'Yes, I'll talk to you,' " said the Rev. Michael Livingston, director of the Poverty Initiative of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.


    Livingston, who traveled to Lakeland from Trenton, N.J., to join the fast, said that by staying out of the agreement, Publix enables the continuation of abuse in the farms.


    "And this is unjust and immoral," he said.

  • West Orlando News, "Publix Slammed for Stinginess," 3/5/12

  • WINK News (video), "Publix HQ protested to highlight CIW Fair Food Program," 3/5/12

  • Fox News, Tampa Bay, "Publix Under Fire from Religious Leaders, Farm Workers," 3/5/12

  • Ft. Myers News-Press, "Coalition of Immokalee Workers' six-day fast targets Publix," 3/5/12

  • Huffington Post (Associated Press), "Coalition of Immokalee Workers fast outside Publix Lakeland headquarters," 3/5/12

The Fast for Fair Food begins!...

150 people gathered this morning at Publix headquarters in Lakeland, Florida -- including 60 workers from Immokalee and their allies who started their fast last night at midnight -- for the launch of the Fast for Fair Food. After a moving opening ceremony and a couple of hours spent setting up camp, the fasters settled into what will be their daily routine for the coming week -- morning medical check-ups, music, presentations, and standing in witness to the daily struggle for survival of their fellow farmworkers in the fields of Florida.


You can follow the fast during the day on facebook and twitter (using the hashtag #fairfoodfast) and check back here this afternoon for a full report from Day One of the Fast for Fair Food!