Organizing Toolkit: Building Power With Food Workers

Who’s behind your food?

Across the country and around the world, people are asking important questions about their food: Where did it come from? How was it produced? And these questions are sparking conversations, movements, and policy changes with far-reaching impacts on our health and environment. Many people are also taking steps to grow their own food or buy organic for their family. But is that an option for everyone? And is it enough? What can we do to make sure the food system works for everyone?

If we believe that healthy, affordable, delicious food is a human right (and we do!), we have to ask not only where and how our food is grown, but who is behind our food. In the United States, over 21 million people work in “food chain” jobs, growing, harvesting, processing, butchering, transporting, preparing, selling, and serving food. Maybe you even work in the food system or have at one point in your life.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the food system as it currently exists does not work for food workers. Eight out of ten of the lowest-paying jobs in the country are food system jobs. While bringing food to consumers’ tables, many food workers can’t access safe and nutritious food themselves due to poverty wages. Women and workers of color are especially vulnerable to exploitation and workplace abuses, and undocumented immigrants are often afraid to speak up due to fear of deportation.

By choosing to consume food that was produced using fair labor practices, we can grow market demand for worker justice. We can—and should—also go beyond “voting with our forks” by supporting worker-led organizations and campaigns that are fighting for higher wages, fair contracts, the right to organize, safe workplaces, and protection from harassment.

The resources in this toolkit will help you organize a fun and engaging film viewing event and help participants understand why worker justice is a necessary part of food system change.

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