Our demands: value workers, local enterprises, environment over corporate profits
By Dmitry Podobreev, Alachua County Labor Coalition
The Alachua County Labor Coalition has partnered with Working Food, the Agricultural Justice Project, the Farmworker Association of Florida, theNatural Resource Defense Council, and the Gainesville YDSA to work toward food justice. So far, we have worked to get Alachua County and the City of Gainesville to sign on to the Good Food Purchasing Program, which is a certification standard for fair food.
On Dec. 15, the city and county both voted to sign on to the GFPP in a joint meeting. With that success, we focused on seizing a once in a decade opportunity to bring food justice to the University of Florida campus.
For the first time in 12 years, UF is renegotiating their food service contract. Our demands are to make sure the new contract values the workers, local enterprises, and the environment over corporate profits. They include a $15 minimum wage for all employees, a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in two years, support for local farmers and vendors, protection for farmworkers and supply chain workers, and a third party verification process to ensure these targets are being met. As things are, there is exploitation at every step of bringing food to the university, but these demands can be a serious step forward. UF claims to be a leader in research and education, but now it has the opportunity to be a leader in food justice.
UF’s students have voiced their enthusiastic support for food justice in their dining halls, and added another component: the struggle against the prison-industrial complex. The current food service provider, Aramark, operates in over 600 jails and prisons where they exploit prison slave labor. In response to this, the students have organized a boycott of the dining facilities within the Reitz Student Union until the demands of the Food Justice League are met and the next contract is guaranteed to not be granted to any company which plays any part in the prison-industrial complex.
Right now, we are in a critical phase of this fight. The top level priorities of the next contract may be decided before the end of February. We have sent an open letter to the administration and the Invitation to Negotiate committee in charge of setting those priorities. You can read the letter, sign on as a supporter, and automatically resend it at: https://foodjusticeleague.org/. You can also find the letter that the student boycotters have written at www.linktr.ee/HOLDUFACCOUNTABLE.