Detailing the reality faced by the nation’s 1.4 million crop farmworkers
In a unique for-profit/NGO joint venture, the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation and United Farm Workers of America, with support from Oxfam America, released a groundbreaking report on March 31, César Chávez Day.
The Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the United Statescompiles and analyzes data from multiple federal, state, and private sources to give the most comprehensive picture yet of the reality faced by America’s least-valued but critically important workforce.
The report is the first of its kind to detail the lack of laws and protections for crop farmworkers in the U.S., and it is an important step toward addressing the issue of farmworker rights in our business and driving change in the food system. We hope that it will lead to the development of verifiable and enforceable standards for farm work that can be supported by both individual consumers and socially responsible corporations.
Background of the report:
In 2009, Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio and Vice President Maisie Greenawalt visited southern Florida as the guests of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), to get a firsthand look at the labor conditions for the pickers who supply winter tomatoes to kitchens across the U.S. What they saw there prompted Bon Appétit to draft a Code of Conduct for tomato growers and to state that we would no longer buy tomatoes from growers that didn’t sign it.
In the ensuing year, we visited other agricultural areas and learned about conditions for harvesters of other crops. We became convinced that, as a socially responsible company whose motto is “food services for a sustainable future,” we had to make farmworker justice one of our core values.
But before we could do anything about this problem, we had to get a sense of how big it is. So we joined forces with two NGOs already working on farmworker issues. The Inventory was produced collaboratively by the United Farm Workers and the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, with support from Oxfam America.
By releasing this report, we aim to encourage other companies and consumers to ask, “Who picked this food?” — and ultimately to drive lasting business, regulatory, and policy changes that will afford agricultural workers the same rights and dignity as those enjoyed by people in other employment sectors.