Students Push to Sell Fair Trade University Idea

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What if that banana, salad, or cookie you grabbed from the cafeteria changed the world?

Jeremy Baril, a first-year student, wants to make sure that more fair trade products are sold by Bon Appétit as an attempt to establish it as a fair trade university.
“Fair trade is a standard that goes all the way down to the manufacturer, [dealing] with issues regarding workers’ rights, and the impact on our planet that global industry tends to have,” Baril said.

A media studies major, Baril said he selects fair trade products because they address social issues, and he finds the quality superior to non-fair trade products. Baril is working with five other first year students and Bon Appétit to make USF a certified fair trade university.

Steven Karuntzos, Outtakes Café Manager, said the cafeteria already sells fair trade certified coffee and teas at USF, and that Bon Appétit is a large supporter of fair trade products.

Baril said he thinks efforts could be expanded by establishing USF as a fair trade university.

“The movement of certifying entire universities as Fair Trade is growing, with several [universities] already jumping on board,” Baril said.

Fair Trade USA is an Oakland-based, non-profit organization that certifies food products and distributes them to universities. By paying an equitable price for harvest, Fair Trade USA helps farmers keep their families fed and their kids in school.
According to Courtney Lang, the Grassroots Outreach Manager at Fair Trade USA, requirements to become a fair trade university include creating a committee, hosting events, and promoting fair trade education.

Bon Appétit already sells at least two fair trade items in each of their campus establishments, another minimum requirement for fair trade certification. Baril and his classmates are working to fulfill the other requirements.

Offering high quality fair trade fruits and vegetables, which are known to be more expensive than generic counterparts, will most likely impact the cost of food at the cafeteria or increase the cost of flexi meal plans.

Nevertheless, promoters of fair trade insist the social benefits outweigh the monetary costs.

“If it’s worth it to you for five cents extra to make sure the people that produce the foods are being compensated, then there will be demand,” said Lang.
Baril’s initiative is still developing, but several steps have already been taken to advance the certification process.

“We’ve taken inventory on all of Bon Appétit’s stores and outlets to make sure we qualify for fair trade certification–and we do,” said Baril.
Baril’s team members have also contacted Father Privet and other faculty to gain support for this movement.

Ultimately the movement seeks to expand beyond cafeteria walls.
“At the core of this effort is the hope that by raising awareness of fair trade, students at USF will realize that they don’t want to support products and companies that exploit both our planet’s resources and our fellow citizens in the hopes of gaining an extra dollar,” Baril said.

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