At this final stop on the CIW’s Northeast Tour, we were honored to be joined by the many allies and Giant shoppers from the D.C. region, including Rev. Michael Livingston, of the Poverty Initiative at the National Council of Churches of Christ, as well as Jeff Krehbiel of the Church of the Pilgrims, and Ben Burkett and Kathy Ozer of the National Family Farm Coalition, who were deeply concerned about Ahold USA’s (Giant’s parent company) refusal to participate in the Fair Food Program.
As a final stop on their Northeast Tour, the CIW joined D.C. Fair Food to celebrate D.C.’s Emancipation Day — as well as mourn the failure, to say the least, of Ahold USA to carry on the legacy of the fight against slavery and oppression. As CIW member Leonel Perez said at the gathering: Not only are they not participating, but they are opening the door for growers who don’t want to participate. Who don’t want their workers to receive the new rights education training in the field as well as basic standards like access to water and shade, freedom from physical and sexual abuse, and freedom from the looming nightmare of modern-day slavery. By saying they are satisfied with the status quo (e.g., that they’ve been just fine at monitoring working conditions all along, obviously), Ahold validates the absence of these protections. With their “Standards of Engagement” and by working with growers who are participating in the Fair Food Program, Ahold claims that they can keep the workers in their supply chain safe from abuse. They don’t need those pesky enforcement mechanisms, or any monitoring organizations that operate independently from the growers themselves, and certainly don’t need any involvement from the people most affected, and most knowledgeable: Farmworkers.