Labor considerations in sustainable food purchasing
Farm and food chain workers face some of the most dangerous and exploitative conditions and lowest wages of any profession in the United States. In 2019, the Department of Labor found that 10 of the 25 lowest paying jobs were in food and agriculture, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that farmers, ranchers, ranch hands, agricultural workers, and fishers were among the jobs with the highest rates of fatal on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Abusive working conditions are rampant across the food system with people of color and women being disproportionately impacted.
As large institutional purchasers, hospitals have a significant role to play in changing this story and promoting fair wages and better working conditions within the hospital walls and in the broader community and food system. This session will provide an overview of the current health and social challenges faced by farm and food chain workers in the United States and how shifting purchasing practices can help improve individual and public health outcomes.
Spectrum Health will share some of their successes as a roadmap for others looking to implement similar programs. Grassroots organizers will share their perspectives on labor conditions and why it is important for hospitals to be involved in leading food system change. Health Care Without Harm staff will provide an overview of food label claims and certifications that include a fair labor component as a starting point for facilities that want to begin to place further emphasis on labor standards in their supply chains.
Center for Good Food Purchasing Co-founder and executive director
Farmworker’s Association of Florida Pesticide safety and environmental health project coordinator
Spectrum Health Executive chef
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