Final day of CIW's 200-mile march draws 1,500 to Publix's doorstep
calling for Fair Food
March 27, 2013 – From March 3-17th, Florida farmworkers and their allies traveled 200 miles on foot in the historic March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food, winding their way from Ft. Myers to Lakeland, FL – home to Florida's largest corporation Publix Supermarkets. Their epic journey – through rain, biting cold, and blistered feet – passed through seven counties, drawing a chorus of honks from the hundreds of cars that passed daily and raising the consciousness of thousands of Publix customers who witnessed the colorful procession.
The march was first and foremost a celebration of the groundbreaking changes farmworkers are witnessing in the fields of Florida through the Fair Food Program (FFP). Represented in bright banners carried high that outline the rights contained in the FFP's Code of Conduct – from the right to file a confidential complaint 24 hours a day to zero tolerance for sexual harassment and modern-day slavery – the march invoked the new day that has dawned in the Florida tomato industry.
However, the incredible journey also served to send a loud-and-clear message to Publix and the other retailers who have yet to join this growing collaboration: a more modern, more humane agricultural system is the future and it is high time they end their resistance to progress by putting their weight behind the Fair Food Program.
Prominent author Raj Patel published a piece in the Huffington Post highlighting the stubborn refusal of Publix to support the groundbreaking human rights gains:
Publix's polished advertisements laud their deep concern for their community. But if you're a Floridian who picks tomatoes for a living, you're clearly not part of that community. And if you're a customer wanting to ask about this, it seems Publix doesn't want you around either.
Yet here's the irony. The Fair Food Program is all about building community. It enshrines the rights of farmworkers never before seen in the agricultural industry in partnership with buyers and growers. read more
The incredible success of the march was picked up and broadcast through social media outlets by Fair Food advocates from the likes of musician Tom Morello of the Nightwatchmen to NY Times columnist and food writer Mark Bittman:
Throughout the 15 days, the CIW's media team, together with Just Harvest, produced a stunning series of photo reports and short videos chronicling the many moving events that took place during the two-week trek – from candle-light vigils, to a celebration of International Women's Day, to the epic march conclusion at Publix's HQ. Don't miss these powerful pieces:
And finally, the march garnered a slew of local and national media stories, the best of which we'll share below. Check back soon for more updates from the front lines of the Fair Food movement!
- Tampa Bay Times, "Immokalee tomato pickers continue march through Tampa," 3/13/13
- Sarasota Herald Tribune, "Immokalee farmworkers group marks progress with march," 3/8/13
- Ms. Magazine, "March marching for Fair Food," 3/8/13
- National Young Farmers Coalition, "Support the CIW's historic march in Tampa," 3/11/
- WTSP Tampa Bay, Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers march from Fort Myers to Publix's headquarters in Lakeland," 3/9/13