“Nearly every day of my life, I have eaten. But today, as I fast, I will pray …
I pray for Wendy’s employees and staff, that they will speak to their management and tell them they are ashamed to work for a company that doesn’t join a sensible program to help the people on whom their profits depend.
I pray that people like you will stop eating at Wendy’s until they change their ways.
I pray that all of us will learn to give thanks for every meal, thanking God for our food, for the good earth that produced it, and for the hardworking farmworkers who planted, tended, and harvested it.
My fast is a small act. But it strengthens my resolve to keep working and speaking out every day for the just, generous, and joyful world God desires for all of us – including my neighbors who are working hard in the fields even now. I hope you’ll join me.”
As we begin Week 4 of this month’s interfaith fast, these words of prayer and invitation from a close and longtime friend of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Christian author Brian McLaren, echo in the actions taken by tens of thousands of people of faith over the course of this 25-year movement for farmworker justice.
The fasting act of each and every participant this month may be small, as Brian writes. However, combined with a letter to Wendy’s headquarters, or a public delivery to a local restaurant, or even a sermon that spreads the Wendy’s Boycott to hundreds more, the fasting act grows in influence while remaining a small contribution. Yet, being those which are within our reach, these acts represent the ‘granito de arena’ that each of us as allies puts into the Fair Food movement whenever we take action alongside farmworkers. That is, the grain of sand each of us brings forth – with our fast, with our words, with our time, and with our hearts – to place alongside the hundreds of thousands of grains of sand of farmworkers and consumers have deposited over the years.
Today, we look admiringly upon what we’ve built together. Following farmworkers’ tremendous leadership, we have constructed a beautiful, solid, towering structure of verifiable human rights for farmworkers in the fields: the Fair Food Program. Yet today, we also know there is a lot of work to be done – for workers in other crops, in other industries, in other countries, even.
Rabbi Barbara Penzner, a #tomatorabbi from Hillel B’nai Torah in Massachusetts who visited Immokalee last week to participate in the AFF Faith Working Group annual meeting (the group is pictured above), reflected on this vision after conversations with farmworker leaders Lupe Gonzalo and Julia de la Cruz:
The CIW women have trained scores of women from Florida to North Carolina to know their rights under the Fair Food Program. Sadly, many of the women ask, “if these are the rights I get working for this [participating] grower, why don’t I have the same rights on other farms?”
To bring this vision into our present reality, we must bring Wendy’s and its enormous purchasing power into the Fair Food Program.
Let us — farmworkers, faith allies, students, and all consumers of conscience — continue putting our small acts together, until our call is too loud, our voice too powerful for Wendy’s to continue ignoring.
And in this month of fasting:
“May each moment of hunger bind us together with all people who hunger for justice. May the dignity of daily bread and the cool waters of equity quench our thirst... May Wendy's and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers feast together at a table of Fair Food.” (Rev. Patricia Carque, faster from the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ)
The Immokalee Crew