Philadelphia is home to vibrant and diverse communities that are working to improve sustainability in agriculture and food production, increase local production, and improve access to healthy foods. Consumers are also beginning to demand information about chemical use, where their food comes from, whether farmers can make a living, and, increasingly, whether the workers were treated fairly.
Farmworkers are the hidden link in the food supply chain, even for consumers and growers who are otherwise well-informed about sustainability issues. In 2015, Friends of Farmworkers decided to launch a new initiative to advocate for the inclusion of fair labor practices in the discussion of fair and sustainable food.
Philadelphia Mayor’s Food Policy Advisory Council
Staff Attorney Stephanie Dorenbosch was appointed to the Food Advisory Council in March 2015. Stephanie is the point person for the issue of fair labor on this committee where they are working to develop recommended standards for city departments’ food purchasing.
Partnership with Fair Food
Friends of Farmworkers is currently partnered with Fair Food to launch a pilot consumer education campaign.
We are in the process of identifying farms that are already going beyond the industry standard in terms of how they treat their workers. "Fair labor" practices can include paying a living wage, providing paid sick time or family leave, health insurance, or other benefits. Farms that have adopted fair labor practices will be highlighted in our campaign and at the Fair Food farm stand at Reading Terminal Market.
If you are interested in learning more or would like recommend a local farm, please contact Katya Botwinick: kbotwinick[at]friendsfw.org.
For farmers, growers, and producers:
Promote your worker-friendly practices and educate your customers!
· Support legislation and policies that raise minimum standards and improve conditions for all workers. Contact your state representative and tell them you support raising the minimum wage, increasing penalties for wage theft, and making drivers’ licenses available to everyone. Learn more at http://raisethewagepa.org and www.licenciaspa.org/en.
· Encourage the management of your co-op or local grocery store to include fair labor practices in their purchasing criteria and informational labeling.
· Remind your friends and family that fair treatment of workers is a necessary and integrated part of any sustainable food system.
Transparency puts information into the hands of the public, and information is power. The Fair Food and Labor Justice movement seeks to empower consumers to make fully informed choices before making purchasing decisions.
Information about a company's labor violations can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor's website. Consumers can find data on the number and types of violations, the amount of back wages the employer agreed to pay, and the amount of civil money penalties assessed. However, since it can be difficult to sort through all the data, FOF is currently exploring the possibility of creating a new public platform to make this information more accessible to consumers.