Sodexo Signs for Fair Food

September 3, 2010 News

Early last week, Sodexo, Rollins’ provider of dining services, revealed to the Rollins campus that they have signed a fair food agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

This new partnership plans to improve the wages of farmers in tomato fields and better their working conditions. It will take effect at the start of Florida’s fall harvest.

This strategic partnership has initiated a strict Supplier Code of Conduct for tomato commerce in Florida, which involved much input from the tomato farmers. This agreement acts as an addition to Sodexo’s already standing Supplier Code of Conduct.

This code entails, as described in the Sodexo press release as the company paying “a 1.5-cent premium for every pound of Florida tomatoes purchased, with the premium going directly to improving wages for tomato harvesters who are part of Sodexo’s supply chain.”

Sodexo, the global food and facilities management company that provides food and dining on Rollins’ campus, also promises in the agreement to “instruct its suppliers not to knowingly purchase tomatoes for Sodexo from Six L’s and any other farms associated with the latest slavery prosecution in Florida, until such time as they become participants in the Fair Food Program.”

This agreement only adds to the varying aspects of their Supplier Code of Conduct. The code outlines the company’s business practice with respect to ethical, social, and environmental awareness, to ensure that the companies they work with adhere to these standards. Some of the topics covered in the code are as follows: child labor, forced labor, wages and benefits, working hours, health and safety guidelines, community involvement, ethical standards, freedom of association, and environmental guidelines, just to name a few.

Arlin Wasserman, Sodexo Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility said, “Our Supplier Code of Conduct has always emphasized strong practices and policies regarding labor practices and working conditions. We can now strengthen these as they relate to specific concerns facing farm workers in Florida’s tomato growing region, which were brought to our attention by the CIW. We are pleased with the newly adopted Code of Conduct specific to these Florida farm workers.”

Sodexo is not just the leading Food and Facilities Management Company in North America, but they also created the “Sodexo Foundation.” It’s an independent charitable organization that strives to fight the issues of hunger in the United States. They have already targeted over 49 million people with this initiative through their company’s first-hand help in the cause, to awarding hunger-related organization with grants; their grants have totaled over $12 million.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a grassroots-driven community farm worker organization located in Immokalee.

They act as the voice of human rights in the agricultural sector, and work towards ensuring that working conditions on farms meet national and international labor standards. Over the time they have represented farm workers, they have worked closely with the Department of Justice in prosecuting six slavery operations, resulting in the liberation of over 1,000 workers.

Lucas Benitez of the CIW had this to say about the agreement: “We are happy to be working with an industry leader like Sodexo to advance fundamental human rights in Florida’s fields. Social responsibility takes a genuine, sustained engagement with workers and growers on the ground, and a determination to support, with increased business, those growers who agree to comply with the highest standards.”

It is not just Sodexo who recognizes the importance of worker rights on a daily basis. The student organization, the Rollins Student Labor Action Project, works to spread awareness of labor rights on the Rollins campus. In the past, this organization has worked closely with the Finances and Services committee to create a Sweat- Free initiative on-campus, and now plan to work with Sodexo to ensure that their tomatoes come from fair labor fields.

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