The following is a guest blog post written by Alexandria Boutros of the Food Chain Workers Alliance.
The first May Day "celebration" occurred on May 1st in 1886. Across the United States, over 300,000 workers across roughly 13,000 businesses walked off their jobs. In Chicago alone, at least 40,000 workers went on strike. Thus were the beginnings of the labor movement, continuing to this day (over a dozen decades later) to tenaciously fight for workers' rights.
Those of us who work in the food system, as farmers, farm workers, food service workers, or in supermarkets need to unite for good jobs, dignity, and justice from farm to plate. Slow Food's slogan is "good, clean, fair", and May Day especially is time where we highlight the "fair" part of Slow Food's Mission. May Day is meant to create an environment of anyone working in the food system to feel welcomed and appreciated.
The Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) also believes in the right of all communities to live, create and work with dignity, respect and equitable access to resources. From farms to restaurants, workers in the food industry are the lowest-paid sector of our economy.
One way FCWA is working to end the exploitation of workers is with the Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFPP). GFPP’s purpose is to increase access to high-quality healthy food in communities and shift production practices especially when it comes to workers, by leveraging the purchasing power of major institutions. This national campaign is happening in several cities around the nation and is at varying stages.
The potential in Cincinnati for instance, is very exciting since it can serve as a blueprint for other cities: A unionized worker-owned cooperative can plant, harvest, produce and supply the food to the city and its institutions. This food will be nutritious and grown organically and sustainably and with all of the standards represented by GFPP. In Chicago, the mayor has appointed a task-force to implement the policy, while the Chicago Park District has committed to run a pilot for this summer's feeding program. In San Francisco, a vote on May 10th can make the school district there the second to implement the groundbreaking policy, after LA. Meanwhile, momentum is building in other cities like NY, Oakland, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Slow Food chapters are key partners nationally and in many ways represent the food system we're trying to create!
To learn more about FCWA or to get involved visit them online via the links below.