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White House Recognizes CIW’s Fair Food Program!

White House Recognizes CIW’s Fair Food Program!

CIW’s early anti-slavery efforts called
“spark that ignited a movement” at White House ceremony…

At the first-ever White House Forum to Combat Human Trafficking last week — an event that involved everyone from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State John Kerry — the CIW and the Fair Food Program were front and center.

The Fair Food Program was singled out in a major new report of recommendations to the President as “one of the most successful and innovative programs” in the world today in the fight to uncover — and prevent — modern-day slavery, a fight President Obama himself called “one of the great human rights causes of our time.”

The report, by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, was released in conjunction with the White House event. The Council is charged with “Identifying best practices and successful modes of delivering social services,” and with “Making recommendations to the President and the Administration on changes in policies, programs, and practices.” Here’s the excerpt from their report, entitled, “Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery,” citing the Fair Food Program:


One of the most successful and innovative programs we researched is the Fair Food Program, developed by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and promoted in partnerships with T’ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights North America) and the International Justice Mission, among others.

Slavery and other human rights abuses are an ongoing threat in U.S. tomato fields. Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy once called Florida’s tomato fields “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. Over the past 15 years, seven cases of forced labor slavery have been successfully prosecuted, resulting in more than 1,000 people freed from slavery in U.S. tomato fields.

The Fair Food program, developed by tomato pickers themselves through CIW, establishes a zero tolerance policy for slavery, child labor, and serious sexual abuse on Florida’s tomato farms.

Meanwhile, at the same White House event, just how far that fight has come over the past twenty years was captured in the comments of the Ambassador at Large Luis CdeBaca, Director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Ambassador CdeBaca told a story about the CIW’s first slavery investigation, US v. Miguel Flores, that placed the CIW at the birth of the modern-day anti-slavery movement (you can watch his comments in the video at this link, beginning around the 25 min. mark):

“[This] reflects what we’ve learned since the early stages of the fight. When I was assigned to my first trafficking case — before we called it trafficking — my supervisor called me into the office and said ‘You know, this group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, keeps coming in and talking about this one crewleader and we’ve never been able to prove anything on him, but where there’s smoke there’s fire.’

And we went out and we were able to investigate that case, with the non-governmental organizations, working across inter-agency lines, working with the private sector, working with folks from every sector and harnessing their efforts to take Miguel Flores off the streets.

So where there was smoke, there was fire, and that little spark has ignited a movement.” …

Don’t miss the rest of this landmark story in the CIW’s history.
Head over to the website!


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