Chartwells Higher Education Student Success Interns Drive Change for Farmworkers

Partnership with Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Fair Food Program inspires students to action during Farmworker Awareness Week.

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — For decades, farm work was one of the lowest paying jobs in the country, and workers were plagued by wage theft, sexual violence and forced labor. To honor the 20th anniversary of National Farmworker Awareness Week, March 25-31, Chartwells Higher Education, a recognized leader in contract food service management, sent eight Student Success interns from across the country to the Immokalee region in Florida to visit the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The interns were part of a first-of-its-kind Chartwells-funded scholarship program and traveled to the region that produces 90 percent of all U.S. winter-grown tomatoes.

The Student Success interns’ trip to the Immokalee region came ten years after Compass Group North America (the parent company of Chartwells) and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) signed a landmark agreement that helped to launch the Fair Food Program (FFP), drastically improving harsh working conditions and brought recognition to the vital contributions farmworkers make to the American food system every day.

“The partnership between the farmworkers, Florida tomato growers and participating retailers like Compass Group ensures fair wages and working conditions for agricultural workers,” Chartwells Higher Education Vice President of Marketing and Communications Salli Darden said. “Compass Group remains committed to paying more per pound of tomatoes to improve wages at the bottom of the supply chain, and continues to support the voices, dignity, and well-being of farmworkers in our supply chain.”

In 2011, the CIW and large retailers including Compass Group, launched the Fair Food Program following the landmark 2009 agreement. The FFP harnesses the power of consumer demand to give farmworkers a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and works to eliminate longstanding abuses in the fields.

“Through the Fair Food Program, we have transformed conditions in the fields for tens of thousands of women and men – but we haven’t done it alone.” Said Cruz Salucio of the CIW. “The support of these student leaders in sparking real commitment and action among their peers is essential in ensuring that we can expand the gains we’ve made to even more farms across the country.”

“Students should care about the CIW and the Fair Food Program simply because this is a food source for all, and we are all responsible for eating the food and participating in the system,” Eastern Michigan University student and Chartwells Sustainability intern Katie Morgan-Macewen said. “Supporting a program like this, even just $5 a month, helps you feel better about where your food is coming from and what kind of humane, or inhumane, conditions you are supporting.”

During National Farmworker Awareness Week these eight interns will lead a campaign on their campuses under the hashtag #ICareAboutFair. These student organizers will be executing fun and interactive educational sessions throughout campus spreading the word about this initiative and encouraging sustainer donations to the Fair Food Program. Some events include a pop-up farmer’s market, Chef’s tables, trivia nights and tomato-based challenges. For more information and to donate to the program please click here.

“For me, visiting the Immokalee region hit really close to home because I am not from America. I am from a country where I am used to seeing my people getting taken advantage of,” said Pa Ngom, Barry University student and Chartwells Marketing intern. “Seeing that there are organizations in place and the company I work for making sure people get fair wages really makes me happy.”


Become a sustaining member today: