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WHAT DOES $2 MILLION BUY? Immokalee group says better wages & working conditions

The money in the form of a private grant is helping the Coalition of Immokalee Workers expand their Fair Food Program.
CIW Grant
Posted at 10:31 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 22:31:51-04

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Just what exactly does $2 million buy today?

Certainly, a lot of things. But Immokalee’s own Community Correspondent Ella Rhoades found out it’s buying education and hope, possibly for farm workers around the world, through the Fair Food Program.

"Es seguir expandiendo es bastante urgente. Es bastante importante porque solo. Este camino de del programa de comida justa ha hecho un cambio en miles de trabajorders. (That's why for us it is to continue expanding. It is quite urgent, it is quite important because only, eh, this path of fair food program has made a change).”

The Fair Food Program is run by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Fair Food Standards Council. In the words of the program’s website, the Fair Food Program is “a partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that aims to ensure humane wages and working conditions for the people who make our food.”

25 states have participating farms, concentrated along the East Coast, plus Colorado and California, and growing everything from tomatoes to sunflowers.

As the website explains: “Participating growers and buyers agree to implement a code of conduct which outlines protections for farm-workers, as well as a Fair Food Premium, which is a bonus passed down along the supply chain from retail to grower.”

Ella's Previous Reporting
December 2023: Coalition of Immokalee Workers marks 30 years of advocacy

Well, the program itself just got a big bonus, of sorts, in the form of a $2 million grant from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. (You might recognize her name, as the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.)

"Nos agradecemos bastante, ¿Verdad? Por haberlo recibido y eso da la oportunidad también para expandir. (We thank her very much, right? For having received it and that also gives the opportunity to expand)," Nely Rodriguez said.

Before spending years with CIW, Rodriguez spent years on farms. The grant money will allow the CIW to continue to expand their program globally, by paying for organizers to visit participating farms in other countries, review working conditions, and make improvements.

So far, the Fair Food Program has participants in Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

CIW representative Lupe Gonzalo also spent years as a farm worker.

"En estas otras industrias en esos otros países tengan una voz y que se vea al trabajador como un ser humano, eso lo hace bastante grande importante para nosotros entonces esto es el beneficio. (In these other industries in those other countries workers have a voice and that the worker is seen as a human being, that makes it quite important for us so this is the benefit)."