Faith leaders sound a call to prayer, fasting, and action to urge Wendy’s to protect farmworkers’ human rights in its corporate supply chain
This July, clergy, faith leaders, and communities from around Florida will embark upon on a month-long rolling fast to heighten the call to Wendy’s to respect farmworker human rights by joining the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program.
In late March, 19 Ohio State University students and alumni began a landmark week-long fast aimed at exposing the injustices that were enabled through OSU’s continued business with Wendy’s, which culminated in a moving 500-strong march of farmworkers and allies from across the country through Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, OH. That fast became the catalyst for a monumental rolling student fast that spread like wildfire to over a dozen universities, involving hundreds of students throughout the month of April. Faith leaders and faith communities from across the country stood with these courageous students in their sacrifice by joining in a National Day of Prayer and Fasting on the fifth day of the OSU students’ fast; and penning powerful statements of support, such as those by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Disciples of Christ, National Farm Worker Ministry, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. And in May, students and professors, faith leaders, food justice and human rights advocates, and community members joined together to take the moral call directly to Wendy’s leadership at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders in Dublin, OH.
And yet, Wendy’s continues to disparage the calls for accountability and farm labor justice from farmworkers and consumers alike. This July, people of faith in Florida are taking up the students’ fast to draw attention to the impact of Wendy’s inaction. In the long tradition of fasting for social justice, dozens of clergy and their communities will begin a month-long interfaith rolling fast to prayerfully enjoin Wendy’s to stand with farmworkers in creating dignity in the fields.
Wendy’s stands alone among its competitors in its refusal to participate in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Presidential Medal-winning Fair Food Program (FFP). Their rejection of the Program goes beyond the fast food chain’s refusal to join. Following the implementation of the FFP in Florida tomato fields, Wendy’s unconscionably shifted its purchases away from participating farms in Florida to Mexico, where the produce industry is notoriously rife with farmworker abuse and exploitation. Instead of adopting the FFP’s uniquely effective worker-driven, market-enforced model for social responsibility, Wendy’s has championed a hollow Code of Conduct that cuts workers out of the equation and relies on woefully inadequate monitoring or enforcement mechanisms.
Wendy’s actions unequivocally fail the basic moral code that demands every single one of us work tirelessly for justice for all people on this Earth -- and that unquestioningly prioritizes human life over corporate profits. Communities of faith across Florida and across the country will not allow such actions to go unanswered. Among the 27 Fair Food supporters who addressed Wendy’s executives and Board of Directors during Wendy’s annual shareholder meeting was Rick Ufford-Chase, former moderator of the PC(USA):
“Your refusal to join the Fair Food Program places you on the wrong side of history. So long as you choose to remain there, the faith community intends to work tirelessly with our ecumenical and interfaith partners to assure that this boycott will be effective. This movement has staying power within our churches.”
Over the course of the month of July, faith leaders and communities throughout Florida will demonstrate that, indeed, this movement for Fair Food is staying and growing within our communities.
You can find all the information you need to participate in the fast in the Fasting Resource Guide, downloadable here.
If you identify as a person of faith or conscience in Florida, email us at Shelby@allianceforfairfood.org to commit to fast for one or more days in July, write an op/ed or letter to Wendy’s leadership, invite a farmworker to speak in your congregation, or donate what you would have spent on food while fasting to the cause of farmworker justice. If you don’t live in Florida but would like to support, please still get in touch!
Note: Fasting can take on many forms, and we urge those who choose to fast to do so in a way that supports their overall health and well-being.