Knoxville’s Three Rivers Market becomes Tennessee’s first Fair Food Sponsor, commits to supporting groundbreaking farmworker human rights program!
KNOXVILLE, TN, February 17, 2021 – Three Rivers Market, a leader in the sustainable food movement and longtime community institution in Knoxville, TN, will join a growing partnership to support the award-winning Fair Food Program (FFP), a worker-driven human rights initiative that protects tens of thousands of farmworkers along the East Coast and Appalachia from abuses ranging from sexual harassment to forced labor.
With deep roots in Knoxville going back more than 40 years, Three Rivers has prioritized access to healthy food since its earliest days as a community buying club. Today, the co-op focuses on creating ethical, sustainable, healthy, and humane food systems.
“Our members have already made a commitment to improving the world around them by making conscious food choices and engaging in food justice issues,” said Caitlin Seidler, Chair, Three Rivers Market Board of Directors. “By joining the Fair Food Sponsor Program and making this tangible commitment to help protect farmworkers’ human rights, our former General Manager, Jacqueline Arthur, put our values into action by choosing to support a Program with a proven impact on people’s lives. We want to see the Fair Food Program grow and we’re proud to be part of that story.”
“Farmworkers are not often at the top of most peoples’ minds when they think about the food on their dinner plates, and even some of the most conscientious consumers don’t know about the kinds of abuses that are commonplace in our industry,” said CIW’s Nely Rodriguez. “When we launched the Fair Food Program more than ten years ago, we knew that consumers would have to be key partners if we were going to make a dent in the poverty and exploitation that our community has faced for generations. Joining forces with the Three Rivers Market community as our first Sponsor in Tennessee is truly exciting. We can’t wait to start this new partnership.”
Sponsors pledge to educate their members and customers about farmworker human rights and the Fair Food Program and to make an annual payment that funds both a Fair Food bonus paid to workers on participating farms and the oversight efforts of the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC). The FFSC is an independent monitor which conducts comprehensive audits and manages a 24/7, trilingual hotline for workers. Three Rivers will also prioritize purchases of Fair Food Program produce. Nearby Smoky Mountain Family Farms became the first tomato grower in Tennessee to join the Fair Food Program as a Participating Grower last year, and there are Fair Food Program farms in seven other states across the country.
The Fair Food Program received a Presidential Medal in 2015 for its efforts combating forced labor and was called “the best workplace monitoring program in the U.S.” on the front page of the New York Times. The Program provides protections for tens of thousands of farmworkers, ensuring the right to work free of violence, discrimination, and sexual assault, in addition to health and safety protections that include the industry’s first comprehensive, fully-enforceable COVID-19 and heat stress illness prevention protocols.
Three Rivers Market is the first Tennessee retailer to join the program. The Sponsor Program was created in order to allow co-ops, small independent grocers, and individual restaurants and chefs to support the Fair Food Program.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers: Fair Food Program
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a human rights organization and Presidential Medal recipient internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, anti-sexual violence efforts, community organizing, and ending slavery. The CIW’s Fair Food Program is a groundbreaking partnership among farmworkers, growers in eight states and multiple crops, and fourteen major food retailers that buy Fair Food produce. Those Fair Food Participating Buyers agree to purchase from suppliers who meet a worker-drafted code of conduct, which includes a zero-tolerance policy for slavery and sexual harassment. Buyers also pay a “penny-per-pound” premium, which is passed down through the supply chain and paid out directly to workers by their employers to address longstanding farmworker poverty. Since the program’s inception in 2011, Buyers have made nearly $39 million in FFP premium payments. For more information, visit www.fairfoodprogram.org and www.ciw-online.org
Three Rivers Market
Three Rivers Market is a cooperative center of sustainable commerce that exists to benefit its members by creating and nourishing a healthier environment, healthier people, and a healthier community. Learn more at: https://www.threeriversmarket.coop/