Youth gather in Immokalee, FL for Student/Farmworker Alliance Encuentro!

The following is a guest piece written by Natalí Rodriguez, a Santa Ana, CA native currently living and organizing in Immokalee, FL as an intern with the Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA).  SFA and Real Food, Real Jobs have a long history of partnership and collaboration, dating all the way back to RFRJ’s humble beginnings as the Stir It Up Campaign, and we are happy to continue our work together to ensure that workers’ voices continue to be an integral part of the movement for sustainable food!

Encuentro participants rally in front of a Naples, Florida Publix supermarket. The action—which also included a march to a nearby Wendy’s restaurant—was part of the Student/Farmworker Alliance’s 9th annual gathering of students and youth.

In a weekend filled with skill-building workshops, strategy sessions, solidarity discussions, and an energetic picket from a Publix store to a Wendy’s location, around 80 students and youth gathered in Immokalee, Florida for the annual Student/Farmworker Alliance (SFA) Encuentro.

Every summer SFA invites students and youth to participate in the Encuentro as a way to prepare for the upcoming year in the Campaign for Fair Food. As an ally organization to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), SFA aims to support the CIW in pressuring food corporations to join the Fair Food Program – a program that requires corporations to pay an extra penny per pound of tomatoes and to support a worker code of conduct in the tomato fields of Florida.

The Encuentro is also a unique opportunity for members of SFA to interact with workers from the CIW. The importance of solidarity and allyship was discussed throughout the weekend as students, youth and CIW members discussed the importance of reaching out to allies across the food movement in order to fight against corporate machines insistent on undermining worker and consumer power.

Another crucial component of the Encuentro is strategy. The weekend consisted of developing strategy for the upcoming year around the CIW campaigns against Publix and Wendy’s. This included coming up with creative tactics around the four-year long campaign against Publix and the official start of the newest SFA campaign to kick Wendy’s off of university campuses! Allies were also invited to join the Publix Truth Tour launching across the Southeast of the U.S. on September 21 and the Midwest Tour kicking off from Chicago on October 9.

The skill-building workshops and the 100 person march from a Publix store to a Wendy’s location also added fuel to the energy, creativity, and relationships that brewed over the weekend. This year is expected to be a strong, hard fought, and exciting season for students and youth working alongside farmworkers in this Fair Food Movement.


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