Friday, December 14, 2012

Caroling for Farmworker Justice - Sat. Dec. 22!

At least a dozen Fair Food supporters will raise their voices in song, spreading a message of justice and holiday cheer inside three King Soopers stores to tell the Denver-based supermarket that it's parent company - the Kroger Corporation- must sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Saturday, December 22nd, 12:30pm
gather at Dazbog Coffee on 9th & Downing

Supermarket locations will be shared in-person with the folks who join us! Meet up will be outside of the Dazbog Coffeeshop on 9th & Downing! Bring a santa hat!

Carol practice: Sunday, December 16, 7pm, contact for details.

 **Background for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)**: The CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. CIW strives to build their strength as a community on a basis of reflection and analysis, constant attention to coalition-building across ethnic divisions, and an ongoing investment in leadership development to help members continually develop their skills in community education and organization. From this basis they fight for, among other things: a fair wage for the work they do, more respect on the part of their bosses and the industries where we work, better and cheaper housing, stronger laws and stronger enforcement against those who would violate workers' rights, the right to organize on our jobs without fear of retaliation, and an end to forced labor in the fields.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Video! King Soopers: Come to the Table...with Farmworkers!

King Soopers: Come to the Table...with Farmworkers! from Denver Fairfood on Vimeo.

A great short video of our teatro from November 17th depicting King Soopers' and parent company Kroger's stubborn refusal to join the Fair Food Program

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why won't King Soopers listen to its customers? An action photo report

Still riding high from our recent victory in the Chipotle campaign, the Denver community held two actions during the Thanksgiving Week of Action.  Both sought to share our message with King Soopers and its parent company Kroger that it is time to come to the table with farmworkers and join the Fair Food Program. And both - in what might be a case of life imitating art - illustrated the ways in which Kroger has turned its back on both farmworkers in its supply chain and its own customers.  The first action can be called:

A Tale of Two Tables

To begin, check out this great video from the action: King Soopers: Come to the Table... 

The action began with a dramatic visual representation of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' long journey toward greater justice, dignity and respect for Florida's farmworkers and the progress that still needs to occur.
The first table, representing the Fair Food Program, depicted the broad array of disparate players in the food industry - from farmworkers to fast-food and grocery chains to tomato growers - who have come to work together as equals in order to end the human rights crisis in Florida's fields, all the while surrounded by dedicated allies who know that the fight to end the exploitation of workers at the other end of the food chain is a struggle to end their exploitation as well.

Meanwhile the second table depicted a smug and miserly executive from King Soopers sitting at a table by himself, his back turned to the table where so many others have congregated to ensure a more just and responsible agricultural industry.

One by one, individuals set the table, going through the history of the Campaign for Fair Food, from the founding of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 1993 through the 11 corporations who've already joined the Fair Food Program including McDonald's, Subway, Whole Foods and just a couple months ago Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill.  All the while, King Soopers stubbornly clung to a "business as usual" mentality which has allowed exploitation to strive for so long and ignored the growing consensus.

But after the giant table was finally set, an obvious question loomed over King Soopers' head.

We called to the executive to "Come to the table!" Just like in our dramatic enactment, we know that King Soopers and parent-company Kroger will try to ignore us (just see below for what happened when we visited the King Soopers corporate offices).

But we also know, every company, no matter how big, eventually cracks.

Armed with this knowledge, the crowd marched across the street and held a loud and powerful demonstration outside of King Soopers' popular supermarket in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood...

...where we repeated old-time chants like "Down! Down! with exploitation!"...

...and introduced new people from the very supportive neighborhood to the Campaign for Fair Food.  Over one hundred customers signed postcards to Kroger that morning calling on the company to join the Fair Food Program.  Which brings us to our second action:

Why won't King Soopers listen to its customers?

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Denver Fair Food visited King Soopers headquarters (Kroger's regional offices) to deliver the postcards we had gotten signed at the previous action.

 First we greeted King Soopers employees as they arrived for work in order to inform them of the need for Kroger to join the Fair Food Program.

We then attempted to speak with a representative from the company and deliver the postcards representing the concerns of so many of us in Denver. However, just like in our street theater from the earlier action, no one from the corporate offices would speak with us. Instead we were asked to leave the property by a security guard. While we didn't expect our demands to be embraced on the spot but we also weren't expecting the cold shoulder. We left confused as to why a company that claims to care so much about its customers would be unwilling to listen to them, but we also left more determined then ever to make our voices heard. Once again like our enactment from the earlier action, we know that eventually Kroger, like so many before it, will eventually come to the table. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

King Soopers Action: Time to Come to the Table with Farmworkers!

King Soopers, time to come to the table with Farmworkers! Join the Fair Food Program!
Saturday, November 17, 12:00noon
King Soopers, 9th & Corona

Set the Table and call on King Soopers’ parent company Kroger to join the 11 other food corporations who have joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program
A new era of human rights and fair wages - for which farmworkers have been fighting for so long - is taking hold in Florida's tomato fields. Yet Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain and owner of Denver-based King Soopers still refuses to adopt the Fair Food principles which would allow these changes to spread and thrive, despite that 11 other fast-food and grocery chains have already joined. It’s time for Kroger to come to the table and join the Fair Food Program!
Florida's farmworkers have long faced brutal conditions. They earn sub-poverty wages, have no right to form unions or to over-time pay, lack traditional employment benefits such as health, sick leave or pensions, and have not received a significant raise in nearly 30 years. At the current rate, a Florida tomato picker must harvest over TWO TONS just to earn the equivalent of minimum wage for a typical 10 hour. In the most extreme situations workers are held in modern-day slavery and forced to work against their will.
However, there is a new hope on the horizon, thanks to the hard-fought campaigns of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a community-base organization of Haitian, Latino and Mayan farmworkers in Florida. Today, eleven leading food corporations (including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) and over 90% of the Florida tomato industry have joined the CIW's Fair Food Program, which includes a penny-per-pound piece rate wage increase, a strict code of conduct, a cooperative complaint resolution system, a participatory health and safety program, and a worker-to-worker education process.
However, Kroger - the nation’s largest supermarket chain and owner of Denver-based King Soopers - has yet to do its part. Now it is time for Kroger to put its support behind the Fair Food Program so that we can put an end to Florida’s “Harvest of Shame” once and for all.
For more information:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Archive of Chipotle Campaign & Victory

Due to the hard work and solidarity of so many in Denver, Chipotle finally joined the CIW's Fair Food Program! While it is of course vital to celebrate our victories, it is just as important to document them. 

Here is an extensive (although not comprehensive) list of the many articles, reports and actions from the six years of the Chipotle campaign and the many articles which came out following the victory:

  • How Chipotle Got on Board With Rights for Farmworkers
  • Chipotle signs Fair Food Agreement, is Kroger next?
  • Chipotle fair-food agreement is the latest win for Florida farmworkers
  • Workers Fight for Justice, From Wal-Mart to Chipotle
  • Chipotle Signs Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Chipotle Signs Contract with Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Now with More Integrity – Chipotle Signs on to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program
  • Your Burrito Just Got More Ethical: Chipotle Commits to Fair Wages for Farmworkers
  • Another Win for Fair Farming! Chipotle sidles up to the Coalition for Immokalee Workers!
  • Chipotle signs fair wage, labor agreement with Florida tomato pickers
  • Chipotle, CIW Finally Reach Accord To Support Florida Tomato Pickers' Rights
  • Chipotle Signs Fair Food Agreement with Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Chef Jose Duarte and Taranta Staff at Starchefs ICC2012 Congress
  • Chipotle Signs Agreement with CIW to Join Fair Food Program
  • Dear Stop + Shop: Please work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)
  • CIW analysis of Chipotle victory
  • Chipotle signs agreement to improve conditions for workers
  • Chipotle Finally Walks the 'Food with Integrity' Walk, Signs Farmworker Agreement
  • Chipotle Agrees to Respect Farmworkers
  • Chipotle signs fair food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Farmworker coalition signs Chipotle to higher-wage agreement for tomato pickers
  • Food Justice Victory: Chipotle Signs Agreement With Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill, Coalition of Immokalee Workers reach accord on tomato harvest wages, working conditions
  • Press Release: Chipotle signs agreement with CIW to join Fair Food Program!
  • Seeking Living Wage and Humane Conditions, Immokalee Workers Bring Fair Food Struggle to Chipotle
  • Hometown chipocrisy: is “food with integrity” just a slogan?
  • Open Community Letter to Chipotle on Behalf of Sustainable Food Movement
  • Demonstrators gather outside Chipotle's Denver headquarters
  • Chipotle bring Cultivate Festival - music, food, ideas and controversy - to City Park
  • At Utopian Chipotle Festival, Immokalee Workers Protest ‘Food With Integrity’
  • Day of Action: from coast to coast, the message is clear...
  • Chipotle (Inter)National Day of Action Photo Report
  • Integrity and Justice: Tell Chipotle to Go Deeper Than Just a Slogan
  • Taking on Chipotle with the Campaign for Fair Food
  • Should the Food Movement Push for Better Jobs too?
  • Why Won't Chipotle Sign the Fair Food Agreement?
  • CIW allies in Columbus and Cincinnati join Chipotle national day of action
  • Immokalee workers protest Chipotle
  • Protesters Target Union Square Chipotle Over Wages For Farm Workers
  • Demonstrators Protest for Fair Food practices at Chipotle’s Across U.S.
  • Chipotle, Do the Right Thing (for farmworkers)
  • Chipotle, please add some farmworker justice to my burrito
  • Chipotle's Top Ten Falsehood, Fibs and Fabrications
  • Photo Report from Philly Chipotle Protest
  • Photo Report from NYC Chipotle protest
  • Chipotle battles new criticism from growers' group
  • Chipotle's Fair Food fail
  • Food writers take chipotle to task
  • Chipotle Ad Criticizes Industrial Agriculture but Ignores Worker Rights
  • Chipotle's Grammy Ad: Great Farming Practices, or Just Great Filmmaking?
  • Are Chipotle And Trader Joe's Really Selling Food with "Integrity?"
  • Chipocrisy at graduation
  • Students to protest Steve Ells at CU graduation
  • Don't Fall For Chipotle's Spin on Slavery
  • Is Chipotle Still Profiting from Modern-Day Slavery?
  • To establish ‘integrity,’ Chipotle Grill needs to stand against farmworker abuse
  • Still Waiting... Chipotle CEO Ells Continues to duck Chipotle Challenge...
  • One Company Thinks They've Created Fast Food with a Conscience -- Are They Right?
  • Chipotle Doesn't Support Florida's Tomato Pickers? Say it ain't so, Steve.
  • Chipotle Challenge: time to back up ‘food with integrity’
  • Chipotle's 'Integrity' slogan draws heat
  • "Our tomatoes are picked by slaves"
  • Celebrating a victory while continuing to call on Chipotle
  • No Justice, No Sustainability
  • When will we be satisfied?
  • Chipotle Uncensored
  • Chipotle Grilled
  • Battle of the Burrito
  • Why were Fair Food activists kicked out of Food, Inc.?
  • Dictionary: hy-poc-ri-sy
  • Further Reading for Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Sustainable food leaders letter to Chipotle CEO Steve Ells
  • Joe Stupp alleges...When in reality...
  • Chipotle: Not So Hot for Farmworkers
  • Chipotle Exploits Farmworkers
  • Chipocrisy Tour Video: Food With Integrity?
  • CIW's Response to Chipotle's 11th Hr Offer
  • Challenging the Chipocrisy
  • 2008 Chipocrisy Tour
  • 2008 Student Letter to Chipotle
  • USAS Action at Chipotle HQ
  • What About Farmworkers, Mr. Ells?
  • Marchers Ask Chipotle to "Wrap a Living Wage" into Their Burritos
  • Florida Farmworkers and Denver Allies March on Chipotle Headquarters
  • April 2, 2008 Denver Fair Food Action outside Chipotle HQ
  • Scholars' Letter to Chipotle
  • Protesters Ask Chipotle to Put its Money Where the Burrito Goes
  • Let the Debate Begin . . .
  • 2006 Denver Mini-Tour
  • CIW's Original Letter to Chipotle

  • Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Denver Fair Food wastes no time in making the pivot...

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls in Denver, King Soopers (aka Kroger), it tolls for you!

    (Note: see below for exclusive pictures from the action in Denver. -Denver Fair Food) 
    All is decidedly not quiet on the western front in the fight for food justice!
    Just days after last week's big announcement that the CIW had reached a Fair Food agreement with Chipotle, the incredible crew at Denver Fair Food is back in the street, taking its message to local grocery giant King Soopers (one of two brands in the Rocky Mountain region owned by Kroger, the other being City Market).
    From the ("Chipotle signs Fair Food Agreement, is Kroger next?", 10/9/12):
    "Protests for Chipotle’s Cultivate festival at City Park in Denver were cancelled due to Chipotle’s recent alliance with the CIW. Instead, on Saturday October 7, 2012, The CIW and protesters gathered outside of the King Soopers on 9th and Corona to ask Kroger (King Soopers parent company) to follow Chipotle and become the 12th corporation along with McDonald’s, Burger King, and Whole Foods to sign the Fair Food Agreement. Oscar Otzoy and Gerardo Reyes from the CIW along with members from the Student Farmworker Alliance, Denver Fair Food, and Reverend Mary from Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church reported that they delivered a letter to the manager of King Soopers asking them to join the FFP."
    Robert McGoey, a longtime stalwart of the Campaign for Fair Food in Denver, spoke about the significance of the agreement with Chipotle and the next chapter in the campaign for Denver Fair Food:
    "(The Chipotle agreement) is a reminder that grassroots organizing between conscientious consumers and farmworkers has the power to shape our food system for the better. We... can take an active role in creating the world we want to see.

    "Now it is time for the country's massive supermarket chains to join the Fair Food Program. Here in Denver we'll be calling on Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket chain and owner of the local King Soopers brand, to join." read more
    If what's past is indeed prologue, the time has come for King Soopers to stop stalling and join the Fair Food Program! There will undoubtedly be much more to come from Denver Fair Food, so we, for one, will be keeping an eye turned to the west in the weeks and months ahead.
    And with that we will give the final word of this update to the fine people of Denver, Colorado, graphic style:
    Exclusive Photos:
    Denver allies marched from Cheesman Park to King Soopers...
    to tell the grocer: Time's Up! Join the Fair Food Program!
    A delegation from the CIW and Denver community delivered a giant letter to King Soopers manager.
    Afterward we had a brief rally across the street knowing that a New Day is dawning! 

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Denver, We Did It! Chipotle signs agreement with CIW to join Fair Food Program!

    Denver, we did it! After many long years of struggle and the participation of so, so many people from Denver in ways both large and small, Chipotle Mexican Grill has finally signed a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers! There is so much more to say, so much gratitude to express, so much pride, so much celebration!
    For now though, Check out this announcement from the CIW.
    While there will not be a march this Saturday at the Cultivate Festival, plans are in the works to instead hold a protest at King Soopers, part of the massive Kroger supermarket chain and another target of the CIW's Campaign for Fair Food.
    And there will also be a celebration Saturday night!
    Stayed tuned for updates. Thank you everyone! -Denver Fair Food

    From left to right, the CIW's Oscar Otzoy, Chipotle's Chris Arnold, and the CIW's Gerardo Reyes, joined in the background by student and faith allies, at today's signing ceremony at Chipotle's Denver headquarters.
    From the joint press release:
    (Note: With the signing of today's agreement, all plans for this weekend's
    action in Denver are CANCELLED)
    Chris Arnold
    Chipotle Mexican Grill
    Gerardo Reyes
    Coalition of Immokalee Workers
    DENVER, October 4, 2012 – Chipotle Mexican Grill and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a farmworker-based human rights organization, have reached an agreement that brings Chipotle’s commitment to sustainable food to the CIW’s Fair Food Program. The agreement, which will improve wages and working conditions for farmworkers in Florida who pick tomatoes for Chipotle, comes in advance of the winter tomato-growing season, when most of the nation’s tomatoes come from growers in Florida.

    The Fair Food Program provides a bonus for tomato pickers to improve wages and binds growers to protocols and a code of conduct that explicitly include a voice for workers in health and safety issues, worker-to-worker education on the new protections under the code, and a complaint resolution procedure which workers can use without fear of retaliation. The Program also provides for independent third party audits to ensure compliance.

    “With this agreement, we are laying down a foundation upon which we all – workers, growers, and Chipotle – can build a stronger Florida tomato industry for the future,” said Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “But more than this, today’s news marks a turning point in the sustainable food movement as a whole, whereby, thanks to Chipotle’s leadership, farmworkers are finally recognized as true partners -- every bit as vital as farmers, chefs, and restaurants -- in bringing ‘good food’ to our tables.”

    “Chipotle has an unmatched track record driving positive change in the nation's food supply and is continuously working to find better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients we use — sources that produce food in ways that demonstrate respect for the land, farm animals, and the people involved,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle. “We believe that this agreement underscores our long-standing commitment to the people who produce the food we serve in our restaurants.”

    Chipotle becomes the 11th company to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program, which is designed to create a sustainable tomato industry through respect for the rights and concerns of all involved. The Fair Food Premium paid by participating buyers like Chipotle is used to help participating growers improve wages and working conditions for Florida farmworkers.

    About Chipotle
    Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO, started Chipotle with the idea that food served fast did not have to be a typical fast food experience. Today, Chipotle continues to offer a focused menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through our vision of Food With Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food from using ingredients that are not only fresh, but that—where possible—are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food. A similarly focused people culture, with an emphasis on identifying and empowering top performing employees, enables us to develop future leaders from within. Chipotle opened with a single restaurant in 1993 and currently operates more than 1,300 restaurants. For more information, visit

    About CIW
    The CIW ( is a community-based farmworker organization headquartered in Immokalee, Florida, with over 4,000 members. The CIW seeks modern working conditions for farmworkers and promotes their fair treatment in accordance with national and international human rights standards. The CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food has won unprecedented support for fundamental farm labor reforms, through the Fair Food Program, from retail food industry leaders. The Fair Food Program taps the unique powers of all the elements of our country's food industry:
    1. of consumers, to demand the highest ethical standards for food production;
    2. of food retailers, to use their tremendous buying power both to demand higher labor standards of their suppliers and help raise farmworkers out of poverty through a price that supports sustainable production;
    3. of growers, to continuously improve their operations and meet consumer demand, keeping pace with an evolving marketplace, and,
    4. of farmworkers, to help expose and fix the worst abuses and apply their unique knowledge toward modernizing, and humanizing, our farm labor system.
    Again, with this agreement, all plans for this weekend's action in Denver are CANCELLED.
    There will be much more on this developing story in the days ahead, so check back again soon!

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Cultivating Justice, Transparency, Partnership! Join CIW and allies October 6!

    Things are heating up for Chipotle!
    Join CIW and Allies in Demanding Rights and Dignity for Farmworkers at Upcoming Denver "Cultivate" Festival
    When: Saturday, October 6th, 10am-4pm and 4:00pm procession and vigil
    What: Chipotle's "Cultivate Festival" - a celebration of the company's self-proclaimed promise to serving "food with integrity" - lacks a major ingredient: a commitment to the farmworkers who harvest tomatoes sold in their stores. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has asked Chipotle for six years to join their acclaimed Fair Food Program, but while the corporation advertises its humane treatment of animals, it has thus far neglected to uphold basic standards for farmworkers.
    Join us in calling on Chipotle to live up to their ethical image by joining the CIW's Fair Food Program -- because a vision of "food with integrity" that excludes farmworkers has no integrity at all.

    10:00am - 4:00pm: Join us for a series of creative actions, street theater, tomato bucket installation, costumed flyering and more! (For a full schedule and to get involved email
    Where: City Park (East of Ferril Lake; see red star on map below)

    4:00pm: A march around the festival perimeter, stopping at each festival entrance to ask for entry, followed by a vigil
    Where: Gather for march in front of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Colorado Blvd & E. Montview Blvd; see orange "M" on map below). If you are unable to march, join us for the vigil east of Ferril Lake (at the red star on map).
    Please share: Facebook Event
    Background: Following ten major victories, including the recent agreement with Trader Joe's, the CIW has developed the Fair Food Program - an historic partnership between farmworkers, tomato growers, and retail corporations. Through their commitment to the Program, these corporations are paying a penny-per-pound premium to lift farmworker wages and have committed to buying only from growers who meet a strict set of labor standards.
    Yet, despite its claim to be the fast-food leader in social accountability, Chipotle has for years refused to sign a Fair Food Agreement and thus and is under no obiligation to stop buying tomatoes from growers where workers' rights are violated.
    Further Information:

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Momentum building in Denver for Fair Food and Farmworker Justice at "Cultivate Festival"

    The weather may cooling, the Campaign for Fair Food is heating up in Denver!  Momentum is growing as Denver allies and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers make plans to bring creative actions to the Oct. 6 Chipotle "Cultivate Festival", calling on the chain to finally sign a Fair Food Agreement with the CIW.

    Here's a few of the exciting happenings:

    1. Oscar Otzoy of the CIW is in Denver through October 6 connecting with community members and animating them to get involved in the Oct. 6 actions. If you'd like to invite Oscar to make an announcement or do a workshop about the CIW's 20-year struggle for justice in the tomato fields of Florida with your community organization, faith group, union, or classroom contact   

    2. On Saturday Sept. 15, Chipotle brought the "Cultivate Festival" to Chicago's Lincoln Park. While Chipotle celebrated inside the gated festival, the CIW and allies set up on a neighboring field to both remind Chipotle and educate festival attendees that the restaurant chain has chosen to ignore farmworkers rather than recognize and respect their vital contribution to the food system by joining the Fair Food Program. For a small hint of the exciting actions being planned for Denver, see the photo report from Chicago here

    3. If you're interested in learning more about the Campaign for Fair Food and the actions planned for Oct. 6, one opportunity will be this Thursday at the Occupy Denver Teach-In:
    The Fight for Fair Food
    Thursday, September 27, 5:30-6:45pm
    at Deer Pile Space above City O’ City at 206 E. 13th Ave.

    We hope to see you all soon!

    Next Meeting: Wednesday, September 26, 6pm at AFSC (901 W. 14th Ave, rm 7; first floor of Court House Square Apartments)

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Philly turning up the heat on Chipotle

    "Fair Food Fridays" wrap up in Philly, but pressure won't let up in the fall; Rabbis for Human Rights - North America says "Now the focus is on Chipotle"!

    With Chipotle's "Cultivate" Festival -- and the CIW's alternative Fair Food Festival -- now just two weeks away, and with the advance team of CIW members and allies already in place laying the groundwork for what should be an exciting event in the Windy City, the pressure is picking up on the self-styled "Food with Integrity" leader throughout the Fair Food nation.

    In Philadelphia, where the dogged members of Philly Fair Food have held weekly lunch hour protests at local Chipotle restaurants throughout the summer (a little thing they liked to call "Fair Food Fridays"), the summer series of protests wrapped up with a lively picket (above) and manager delegation yesterday. Here's how they framed their Friday protest campaign:
    "Conscientious consumers across the United States are calling on Chipotle to honor the rights of farmworkers who pick the tomatoes that go into Chipotle burritos. Here in Philly, we plan to send a powerful message to the company. During each Friday lunch rush, we will picket one of the busiest Chipotle locations in the city. We will talk with customers about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' “Fair Food Program” and make sure they know about Chipotle’s refusal to participate. We’ll ask customers to sign and deliver a letter to the restaurant manager that asks the company to live up to its ethical image by joining the program." read more

    This unrelenting campaign of protests led by students, parents, faith leaders and burrito-lovers resulted in the delivery of over 100 manager letters by disillusioned Chipotle patrons. Week after week, the group returned to convey their message: "Food with Integrity" that dismisses worker participation, lacks transparency and rejects commitment to verifiable enforcement actually has no integrity at all. 

    Now that the summer's over and Fair Food Fridays are a wrap, are the Philly Fair Food lovers turning down the heat on Chipotle? Hardly! Here's the message after Friday's protest on their facebook page:
    "Center City Chipotle, we'll be back to see you soon. Next up, University City!"

    Meanwhile, another great CIW partner, the Rabbis for Human Rights -- North America, is leading the Jewish community across the country in the fight against modern-day slavery, and a key arrow in their quiver is their support for the Campaign for Fair Food. RHR-NA played a leading role in the Trader Joe's campaign, and now, in an interview with RHR-NA Director Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, it is clear that they will be turning their considerable clout on Chipotle:

    "This change in the lives of the Florida farm workers reflects the growing success of the CIW campaign, which has support from a broad coalition of human rights, labor, and religious groups such as RHR. 
    The core of the campaign is to pressure the large customers of the tomato growers to buy only from suppliers who treat their workers properly. 
    “The first victory was Taco Bell. Then a bunch of other fast food chains followed: Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway. Whole Foods signed on, and then Trader Joe’s last winter,” Kahn-Troster said [Rabbi Kahn-Troster is pictured above, rear, with her daughter in the foreground, holding the "Do Your Part" sign, at a recent Stop & Shop protest]... 
    ... Now, the focus is on the Chipotle restaurant chain. Kahn-Troster said that some tomato purchasers say that they agree with the code of conduct; nonetheless, they haven’t signed the agreement. 
    “The problem for us as consumers is that if there’s not a legally binding agreement, they could change it tomorrow. If a grower was found to be using forced labor they would be suspended from the program, and Whole Foods and McDonald’s could no longer buy from them” but buyers who had not signed could do so. 
    That’s a big challenge now,” Kahn-Troster said.

    But not too big a challenge the RHR-NA, or the Campaign for Fair Food! Check back soon for more news from Chicago as the advance team meets with student, faith, and community allies ahead of the big Cultivate Festival action this Sept. 15.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Community Meeting: No Chipocrisy in our 'hood!

    Planning creative community/farmworker actions for the Denver Chipotle festival

    Chipotle still refuses to sign a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers which would uphold human rights standards,fair wages and a voice for farmworkers who pick Chipotle's tomatoes.  Without signing a Fair Food Agreement, there is no transparency, worker participation, or, most of all, binding commitment to farmworker rights on Chipotle's part.

    We want your help to plan creative actions at an upcoming festival being staged by Chipotle in Denver! Join us for a community planning meeting on:

    Thursday, September 6, 6:30-8:30
    at the American Friends Service Committee office
    901 W. 14th Ave, rm #7
    (14th and Kalamath; first floor of the Court House SquareApartments)

    Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will come to Denver in the weeks prior to the Oct. 6 festival to educate the Denver community about their struggle and animate people to get involved.  We need your assistance to set up educational opportunities, plan actions and show the CIW that Denver stands with them.

    On SaturdayOctober 6th, Chipotle Mexican Grill will hold its "Cultivate Festival" in City Park. The day-long festival --"bringing together food, farmers, chefs, artisans, thought leaders, and musicians" -- is a celebration of Chipotle's self-proclaimed commitment to"food with integrity." The Cultivate festivals are part of a concerted marketing effort by Chipotle to distance itself from the image of a traditional fast-food company and to woo the country's growing "Good Food" movement.

    Despite Chipotle's claim to be the fast-food leader in social accountability, the Denver-based restaurant chain has for many years now refused to sign a Fair Food Agreement,an agreement four other leading fast-food companies signed long ago. By signing a Fair Food Agreement, Chipotle would be joining the CIW's Fair Food Program, the only social accountability program of its kind that combines worker-to-worker education, a complaint mechanism with protection against retaliation, and a third-party monitoring organization that investigates and resolves complaints as well as carries out regular field and farm office audits to measure compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct. The burgeoning Fair Food Program is already transforming conditions and wages in the fields which for so long fostered poverty and human rights abuses for farmworkers.

    The entire Fair Food Program is enforced through the exercise of market consequences if a farm fails to comply with the Code. The market consequences are required by the Fair Food Agreements signed by participating retail food corporations, in which the companies have agreed to curtail purchases from growers unwilling to complywith the Code. Chipotle's refusal to sign an Agreement means it is under no obligation, much less verifiable obligation, to stop buying tomatoes from growers where workers' rights are being violated. Chipotle insists that it only purchases tomatoes from growers complying with Fair Food Standards, but such claims, lacking the transparency, monitoring and binding commitment of a Fair Food Agreement, amount to little more than a cynical attempt to white wash its image.

    So, on October 6, the CIW and allies will come to the Cultivate Festival in Denver to show Chipotle that promoting itself as sustainable is not enough - it must include workers' rights, and workers themselves, in its vision of a food system that claims to be based on integrity. We will not settle for public relations games and half measures when it comes to human rights.

    Contact for more info.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Chipotle's food movement charm offensive will not go unanswered!

    CIW, Fair Food activists to attend Chipotle's upcoming "Cultivate" festivals in Chicago, Denver, highlight company's "Chipocrisy" when it comes to human rights...
    On September 15th, Chipotle Mexican Grill will hold the second annual "Cultivate Festival" in Lincoln Park, Chicago. The day-long festival -- "bringing together food, farmers, chefs, artisans, thought leaders, and musicians" -- is a celebration of Chipotle's self-proclaimed holistic commitment to "food with integrity." Three weeks later, the festival moves to Denver, Chipotle's hometown, and it happens all over again.

    The Cultivate festivals are all part of a concerted outreach effort by Chipotle to distance itself from the image of a traditional fast-food company and to woo the country's growing "Good Food" movement. As Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said in a recent article about the shift in the company's marketing strategy ("Chipotle shifts marketing approach, reports 8% comps increase,", 7/23/12):
    "Ells said the company is developing new creative concepts to follow up its Back to Basics short film that aired during the Super Bowl...

    The company also is producing two Cultivate Food, Ideas & Music Festivals. Cultivate Chicago will be held Sept. 15 in Lincoln Park, and Cultivate Denver is slated for Oct. 6 in the Meadow at City Park...

    'These programs, along with a variety of others, are all designed to engage with our customers in conversations and create an emotional connection that will last much longer than any limited time offer possibly could,' Ells said. 'I think this is absolutely the right direction for our marketing and believe it's very consistent with our brand. We've built Chipotle in a way that is different than traditional fast food, so it should be no surprise that the marketing that works best for us does not follow the traditional fast food model.'" read more
    Despite Chipotle's claim to be the fast-food leader in social accountability, the burgeoning restaurant chain has for many years now refused to sign a Fair Food Agreement, an agreement four other leading fast-food companies signed long ago, including McDonald's, Chipotle's former parent company. By signing a Fair Food Agreement, Chipotle would be joining the CIW's Fair Food Program, the only social accountability program of its kind that combines worker-to-worker education, a complaint mechanism with protection against retaliation, and a third-party monitoring organization that investigates and resolves complaints as well as carries out regular field and farm office audits to measure compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct.
    The entire Fair Food Program is enforced through the exercise of market consequences if a farm fails to comply with the Code. The market consequences are required by the Fair Food Agreements signed by participating retail food corporations, in which the companies have agreed to curtail purchases from growers unwilling to comply with the Code. Chipotle's refusal to sign an Agreement means it is under no obligation, much less verifiable obligation, to stop buying tomatoes from growers where workers' rights are being violated.

    So, on September 15th, the CIW and allies will head to the Cultivate Festival in Chicago to show Chipotle that promoting itself as sustainable is not enough - it must include workers' rights, and workers themselves, in its vision of a food system that claims to be based on integrity.

    Fair Food activists are planning a series of creative actions inside the festival - creating a festival within a festival of sorts - to unveil the truth behind Chipotle's marketing. Combining prayer, theater, music, and a few surprises, the counter-festival will highlight the contradiction between the attention Chipotle pays to sustainable meat and animal welfare, on the one hand, while, on the other hand, simultaneously refusing to partner with the CIW in the Fair Food Program, the program for real social responsibility that is today changing the pervasive poverty and powerlessness of the farmworkers who pick Florida tomatoes.
    If you live in the Chicago or Denver areas and would like to get involved in the Fair Food activities during the upcoming Cultivate festivals, you can email organizers at Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Denver Fair Food at Social Forum at Ekar Farm

    Denver Fair Food will be speaking on farmworker rights on the Food Justice Panel at the Social Forum happening at Ekar Farm this Sunday.

    The Food Justice Panel will be from 10:30am-12:30pm. Join us or for all or part of this cool event! 

    Social Forum: Creating a Just and Sustainable World
    Where: Ekar Farm, 181 S Oneida St, Denver
    When: Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 8:30am
    At 8:30, take a tour of the farm and help harvest produce for a donation to JFS Weinberg Food Pantry. from 10:30am to 12:30, three teach-ins are presented: Denver Water, Food Justice, and Farm to Table. At 12:30pm, we will eat lunch (bring a sack lunch) and hold an open forum to discuss what we have learned and choose our next steps.

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Chipotle Day of Action: From coast to coast, the message is clear...

    Stop the Chipocrisy, start working with the CIW in a real, verifiable, and respectful partnership for human rights in your tomato supply chain -- now!

    One thing we've learned from more than a decade of the Campaign for Fair Food is that ignoring your customers is never a winning strategy. Neither is trying to trick them.
    People demanding a change whose time has come don't go away just because you turn your back on them. Nor do they fall for half measures or paternalistic reassurances that, though they may not agree or even understand, their concerns are in fact being heard and addressed.

    The history of movements for human rights -- of movements to end the systematic exploitation, humiliation, and abuse of one class of human beings by another -- shows us that efforts by the exploiter to detain or delay progress are, ultimately, futile. In the words of Dr. King's far more eloquent formulation, "How long? Not long! Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

    This week, a new chapter is being written in that history, through the ever-expanding campaign calling on Chipotle to live up to its claims of sustainability, to recognize farmworkers as partners in its success, and to join the CIW's Fair Food Program to eliminate human rights abuses in Florida's tomato fields. And the authors of this latest chapter are a growing wave of Fair Food activists that took to the streets this week in 25 cities across the country -- and across the Atlantic Ocean, in London, England -- to take the fight to Chipotle.

    The protests' message was captured in a quote from Gerardo Reyes of the CIW:
    “As farmworkers – the human beings actually confronting the poverty wages and labor abuses every day in the fields – we have no role in Chipotle’s plan,” explained Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “Under their plan, Chipotle says it will review its own code of conduct and decide if any changes are needed, Chipotle will check its own payments for accuracy under its penny per pound plan, and Chipotle will verify its own compliance with the changes it is proposing. That’s just not credible. Transparency, verification, and participation are essential elements of the agreements we have reached with other fast-food leaders, and they are essential elements in any defensible definition of social responsibility.” read more
    And echoed in a quote by Karen Dwyer, a Fair Food activist speaking to National Public Radio about the Chipotle protest in Naples, Florida:
    "Without the agreement, the promise is not enforceable. It's a partnership, this Fair Food Agreement, it only works if everyone works together. And Chipotle wants to go-it-alone, just buy the tomatoes from those tomato growers that have already signed on to this agreement. But, the problem with that is then there's no verification. It's not a credible, contractual agreement and it cannot be verified." read more
    But, ultimately, it was best expressed in over two dozen protests in signs, chants and one-to-one exchanges with Chipotle customers and managers at Chipotle restaurants across the country. Here below are a few of the first-hand reports from some of the actions:
    London, England: "We found out on Monday that Chipotle has plans to expand in the UK. So we're pretty pleased that by Wednesday we had a half a dozen people from all around the country handing out several hundred leaflets at one of the three already existing branches in London! We had a great response from passers-by and most of the customers that we spoke to. Some said they would think twice before eating there again. We can make Chipotle feel that wherever they try and open a branch there will be a local group ready with leaflets."

    New York City: "Community Farmworker Alliance (CFA) in NYC hosted two days of action targeting Chipotle for their refusal to come to the table with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and sign the fair food agreement. On Tuesday, July 24th members of CFA, joined by Oscar Otzoy of CIW joined with over one thousand low wage workers as part of a #nyrising action to call on corporations and employers to respect their employees and pay them a living wage. As part of the action, the marchers gathered at Chipotle demanding farmworker justice.

    On July 25th, over 50 community members and activists joined with Oscar and CIW to hold a picket in front of Chipotle and deliver hundreds of signed postcards asking Chipotle to do the right thing. As new Chipotle's continue to open in NYC, CFA will keep the pressure up to let them know that until they serve food with real integrity, we won't stop knocking at the door."

    Twin Cities, MN: "We went with around 15 people from four different organizations (Land Stewardship Project, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, CTUL, and University of Minnesota Chicano Studies Program) and delivered 500 petition signatures from people in the Twin Cities calling on Chipotle to sign the Fair Food Agreement with CIW, and let them know that we would be bringing thousands more signatures in the future. the manager was generally supportive and said he would call the general manager that day, and we are going to follow up with him about that conversation."

    Columbus, Ohio: "We had a great action last evening in Columbus, Ohio with 30+ participants. It was a good intersection of students, faith community, local activists and new supporters of Ohio Fair Food and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. We even had a couple of people walking by who asked who we were and why we there, then decided to join us!

    A small delegation went to speak with the manager. There was someone from the regional office waiting for us and observing our action. We had an extensive conversation with her about who we are and our expectations for Chipotle. We are pleased to say that support in Ohio is growing."

    Albuquerque, NM: "Unfortunately we were not able to get any photos, but 7 of us stood outside the Chipotle in Albuquerque from 5-7p.m. We also talked to two employees and a manager, they all told us they supported the cause. Also most of the customers and people, including the manager, that we talked to, told us they were shocked. Also the manager said that they had no problem with us standing outside Chipotle, and said our presence was "quite impressive!"

    Thats all from us for now. UNM Fair Trade Initiative, a student group at the University of New Mexico, said they were going to take up the torch and take this on as their fall project. So we let the manager know that we will be coming back."
    There are many, many more reports that have made their way into the CIW already, and many more to come, so check back soon for a complete round-up when all the actions are a wrap next week.

    Finally, we have the message as conveyed in the media. Perhaps the very best story on the protests came, not surprisingly, from the food movement blog in a piece that covered the action at a Chipotle restaurant in Oakland entitled, "Taking on Chipotle with the Campaign for Fair Food". Here's an excerpt:
    "... Though Chipotle works with some of the same growers that McDonald’s does, they have been refusing to sign the Fair Food agreement with the CIW, despite their hearty advertisement as an ethical eatery that purchases from local and sustainable farms that supply ingredients that are “raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers.”

    “Change is an equation that includes workers, growers, buyers, and consumers,” says Jake Ratner, the community coordinator at Just Harvest, and “Chipotle’s stance represents an arrogant approach to food justice.”

    Essentially, corporations have benefited from the free market and the politics that have created a history of corporate control. This has not served the laborers that bring the food to the table, and it has belied a mask of consumer choice with low prices that don’t reflect the true cost of the food being sold. In response, the CIW has established its own department of labor that sets wage standards and worker and corporate accountability. They are working one-on-one with the farms and big buyers, rather than relying on government (which has historically been too late to the table in responding to slavery in the fields, for example, and many other travesties that were supposed to be regulated). This is working towards a real sustainability that goes beyond organics and sets honest standards for both workers and buyers.

    “The campaign may not be taking on the Farm Bill or global trade policy directly,” said Kandace Eloisa Vallejo, a board member at Just Harvest. “But they are taking on chain restaurants and grocery stores,” which, she said, may prove more effective in the end.

    The movement for fair food and farmworker justice is growing. Many of those working in the food movement will be called to take action to show solidarity with farm labor rights as a critical component in their work towards a sustainable food system." read more
    We send you into your weekend with a collection of all the media links from the Day of Action protests:

    SW Florida:
    Thanks to everyone who made the Chipotle Day of Action such a huge success!

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Action Alert: Deliver a Chipotle manager letter this week!

    Take a few minutes this week to tell Chipotle Mexican Grill to join the Fair Food Program by delivering a letter to the manager at your nearest restaurant.

    Download the manager letter here!

    This wednesday allies of the CIW across the country will be taking action as part of a National Chipotle Day of Action.  They will demand that Chipotle make a real commitment to upholding the human rights of farmworkers in its supply chain.  We are fed up with Chipotle's go-it-alone approach which eschews transparency, rejects worker participation and promises no lasting commitment.  We will not settle for half measures when it comes to human rights!

    Amplify the message from the Day of Action by taking action yourself.  Download a manager letter, take it to a local Chipotle restaurant, ask to speak to the manager, and give her or him the letter (and a piece of your mind while you're at it!).

    If you speak to a manager, she may try to convince you that Chipotle is already living up to the Fair Food standards. You can tell her or him that Chipotle doesn't get to decide the meaning of Fair Food; We do! And we demand that Chipotle sign a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers! See Chipotle's Top Ten Falsehoods, Fibs and Fabrications about the Campaign for Fair Food for more information.