For Immediate Release: May 16, 2023
Contact: Shane Tan (firstname.lastname@example.org); Neshani Jani (email@example.com)
New Report Exposes Corporate Control of Public Supply Chains and the Communities Reclaiming Them
NATIONAL (May 16, 2023) – A new report released today from the Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) and HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance analyzes how grassroots leaders have won policies in 10 U.S. cities that hold institutions accountable to purchasing food from suppliers who support people working on the frontlines, local communities, animals, and the environment – collectively influencing over $540 million in public food dollars.
The report, Procuring Food Justice: Grassroots Solutions for Reclaiming Public Supply Chains, distills lessons from a decade of organizing to offer advocates a new blueprint for leveraging a “values-based purchasing” strategy to challenge corporate control of public food and redirect billions of taxpayer dollars toward small producers, producers of color, and suppliers with fair labor practices.
“This new analysis reveals how just a handful of corporations have seized near-total control of our public supply chains so they can rake in profits while paying workers poverty wages, putting lives at risk with hazardous working conditions, and retaliating against workers who exercise their right to organize,” said Christina Spach, Food Campaigns Director at the Food Chain Workers Alliance. “This report outlines opportunities for leveraging public contracts to hold these corporations accountable. In order for public contracts to reflect public values, we must demand transparency from suppliers and establish consequences for companies that do not follow fair labor practices.”
“Three out of five kids rely on the food served in public schools, and they deserve food systems that support them, not entrench them in the current state of inequality” said Jose Oliva, Campaigns Director at HEAL Food Alliance. “These massive food corporations are using taxpayer dollars to increase their own profit margins at the expense of our children, working people, and the planet. The solutions detailed in this report show that it is possible to get quality, nutritious, and sustainable food into schools and other public feeding programs – where kids and families need it most.”
The report draws on the testimonies of organizers and advocates on the ground, including surveys of 83 people working on the frontlines of production and warehousing; case studies with farmers, food aggregators, and processing plant workers; and 50 interviews with organizers, farmers, advocates, and academics. The report concludes that there are two primary needs for the future success of this work: supply chain transparency and real enforcement mechanisms.
The full report is available at: procuringfoodjustice.org/
Our local work to implement values-based food procurement is only possible with meaningful support from our state government. New York has some of the most restrictive procurement laws in the country, so we are keenly aware that lowest bidder requirements are incredibly prohibitive and do not create enough space for food purchasing to be democratized across municipalities. Eliminating lowest bidder requirements and lifting barriers to values-based food procurement allows municipalities to make decisions about their institutional food purchasing needs that are aligned with the values of the communities they are serving.
– Ribka Getachew, Director of the NY Good Food Purchasing Program Campaign, Community Food Advocates Good Food Communities coalition member
I asked for the data [for procurement contracts]. Who bought from whom? Who ends up with the contracts? The three privileged white farmers that already had a monopoly on everything because they “work with organic methods.” Well, so do all of us [ACN’s Black, Indigenous and producers of color], but because they had that longevity of farming, they also had the capital, the land, the resources, the labor, and they had their white skin privilege.
– Helga Garcia-Garza, Director of Agri-Cultura Co-operative Network
About the Food Chain Workers Alliance
The Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) is a bi-national coalition of 33 worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food. Together, our Alliance is fighting for a food system in which workers earn living wages and have safe and healthy working conditions, access to the food they produce, and a voice in the workplaces and communities. We are using two primary strategies to grow organized worker density in the food chain: building our members’ capacity to organize locally; and coming together for collective organizing, policy and worker advocacy campaigns.
About the HEAL Food Alliance
The HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance is a national multi-sector, multi-racial coalition. We are led by our member-organizations, who represent about two million rural and urban farmers, ranchers, fishers, farm and food chain workers, indigenous groups, scientists, public health advocates, policy experts, and community organizers united in their commitment to transformed food systems that are healthy for all families, accessible and affordable for all communities, and fair to the working people who grow, distribute, prepare, and serve our food – while protecting the air, water, and land we all depend on. www.healfoodalliance.org