Farmworkers march to Tampa to challenge Publix to honor the Fair Food Program

03/13/13 Lenka Davis
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Wednesday the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their allies pass through Tampa on their 200 mile march from Ft Myers to the headquarters of Publix in Lakeland; the marchers are calling on Publix to honor the social responsibility agreement for farm labor reform known as the Fair Food Program.

Right after sunrise, about seventy marchers gather in Riverview´s Mosaic Park to start walking. Oscar Otzoy is with the farmworkers’ coalition.

In its official statement about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers march, Publix says paying farmworkers and additional penny per pound of tomatoes should be the responsibility of their employers. But Jordan Buckley, a staff member with the allied group InterAction, says there’s more to the program than just the penny per pound.

Gerardo Reyes from the coalition says many of the farms that do not honor the Fair Food Program hold their workers in slave-like conditions.

Jordan Buckley, from InterAction, says the coalition has been asking Publix to join the Fair Food Program for nearly four years.

But it wasn’t just farmworkers and organizers marching from Riverview toward Tampa. People from all walks of life came to show their support to the farmworkers: men and women, to students, the elderly and children, as well. Eliana Agudelo, an artist and a traveler who decided to drive shuttles for the march, knows she is helping the farmers´ families who deserve better conditions.

Joe Parker from the Student Farmworker Alliance calls for dignity and respect for all parts of the supply chain.

Kandace Vallejo from the board of Just Harvest USA says none of the achievements of the Immokalee farmworkers would be possible without their allies from all walks of life across the nation.

The march for Rights, Respect and Fair Food continues Wednesday at 8 p.m. with a vigil at the Temple Terrace Publix at 5450 East Busch Blvd. It concludes Sunday at the Publix headquarters in Lakeland.

Check out more photos here.

Here's video from the Temple Terrace vigil:

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