Temple University students joined a national campaign to boycott the alleged unfair treatment of farmworkers by national fast food chains like Wendy’s.
Temple’s Student/Farmworker Alliance joined the “Boot the Braids” campaign in December 2018, calling for the university to remove the Diamond Dollars program from the Wendy’s on Broad Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
The fast-food giant, unlike competing retailers, does not adhere to the Fair Food Program, an agreement between food retailers and growers to pay and treat agricultural workers fairly. The program is an extension of already-existing laws for the treatment of farmworkers, according to its website.
Wendy’s recently changed its produce supply practices to provide better conditions for workers, a spokesperson said, but has not agreed to the program.
“Instead of complying with the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s came up with other alternatives…which essentially doesn’t fix the problem,” said Danielle Brodsky, a board member of Temple SFA. “It’s just a distraction.”
Food retailers like Whole Foods and Chipotle agreed to the Fair Food Program in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
The program establishes an agreement with food retailers to pay more for produce items to benefit farmworkers and to cut ties with growers who do not follow the Fair Food Code of Conduct. The program was established in 2001 by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, tomato farmers in Immokalee, Florida.
“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers continues to spread false and misleading information about Wendy’s,” wrote Heidi Schauer, a Wendy’s spokesperson, in an email to The Temple News.
“We have not purchased commodity field-grown tomatoes from Florida for several years, which is the predominant area in which this activist organization supports,” Schauer continued.
Wendy’s recently committed to sourcing vine-ripened tomatoes from suppliers with indoor greenhouse farms, which will ensure safe and respectable working conditions and decrease chemical pesticides, Schauer wrote.
The Temple SFA is drafting a letter to President Richard Englert, urging the university to pull the Diamond Dollars program from Wendy’s until it signs onto the Fair Food Program. A university spokesperson declined to comment.
Earlier this month, a representative from the national SFA and a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers visited Main Campus and students demonstrated, some wearing red braided wigs and holding “Boycott Wendy’s” and “Fair Food” posters. The protesters presented a letter encouraging Wendy’s employees at the location to fight for the rights of farmworkers.
“It’s such a simple way to help people just by saying, ‘I’m not going to support a company that refuses to pay their farmworkers properly and refuses to ensure safe living and working conditions,’” Brodsky said.
The national SFA chapter will tour universities in early March. Representatives will hold lectures and alliance marches at universities like Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, which have contracts with Wendy’s.
Although Temple is not currently on the SFA’s agenda, it may be in the future, said Ximena Pedroza, a national organizer for the SFA.