This past weekend, nearly 90 allies from across the Alliance for Fair Food’s vibrant national network of students, youth, people of faith, food justice advocates, and grassroots organizations came together in Immokalee for a successful, first-ever Wendy’s Boycott Summit. Hailing from nearly 20 different states and from dozens of high schools, universities and congregations from coast to coast, participants gathered at the heart of the movement for Fair Food to build skills, relationships and, of course, develop a winning strategy for a victory in the Wendy’s Boycott!
The Summit’s timely confluence of experience, fresh ideas and commitment takes place at a critical moment in the Campaign for Fair Food. The dozens of committed allies attending the Summit, and the hundreds upon hundreds they represent nationwide, understand the urgency behind the CIW’s second-ever call for a national consumer boycott of a major food retailer: the Fair Food Program has taken root and is successfully guaranteeing verifiable human rights to tens of thousands of farmworkers across the East Coast, yet Wendy’s stubborn, drawn-out refusal to commit to the Fair Food Program and decision to shift purchases outside of Florida continues to provide an alternative market for growers who, outside the Program, perpetuate abuses with impunity.
The weekend began with a beautiful opening ceremony at the CIW’s community center in Immokalee as allies were warmly welcomed by the CIW’s Women’s Group, and an important reflection on planting seeds of consciousness to harvest fruits of dignity and justice. Over the next couple of days, participants dove into skill-building workshops about community organizing, press, art, and more; campaign history sessions that drew insightful connections between the seminal Taco Bell boycott to the current boycott of Wendy’s; and group discussions about the importance of standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the struggle for farmworker justice.
Strategy development sessions made up the heart of the weekend, during which participants split into breakout discussions based on geographical region and constituency. As students made plans for strengthening and growing the Boot the Braids campaign to cut university contracts with on-campus Wendy’s – including at The Ohio State University in Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, OH – people from the nine Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions present strategized to mobilize their congregations and institutions to take action and provide support for the Wendy’s Boycott. Fair Food Groups based in cities across the country also put their heads together to map out a vision for stronger locally-based organizing in the Wendy’s Boycott.
On Saturday, the group loaded onto buses and headed into Naples, where they were met with an energized contingent of farmworkers and their families from Immokalee and dozens more Southwest Florida allies to picket outside a prominent Wendy’s location. The 150-strong protest went far from unnoticed by Wendy’s management and the cars passing by on busy U.S. 41, drawing on the strength, excitement and commitment of the farmworkers and allies that throughout the year and throughout the weekend had been working together to bring Wendy’s to the table with the CIW.
The Summit weekend concluded with participants conscious, committed and ready to hit the ground running with a long, concrete list of plans to take back to their home bases and turn up the heat on Wendy’s!
The upcoming Behind the Braids regional fall tours, which will bring the boycott to thousands of consumers in over 20 cities, and culminating with a national weekend of action from Nov. 11-13, is only the beginning. After an entire season of university, congregational, and community organizing that will undoubtedly swell support for the Wendy’s Boycott nationwide, it’s only a matter of time before Wendy’s realizes the only way forward is joining the Fair Food Program!
Check out the ‘Behind the Braids’ fall schedule to attend or plan an action in your city!