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Freedom For Tomato Pickers

Freedom For Tomato Pickers

Rabbi Jill Jacobs has led and participated in countless seders. Here, she toasts a first-timer, Santiago Perez, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s second annual Food and Justice Passover Seder on April 4.

Ordained by the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Jacobs is the director of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America and has helped to spread awareness about workers in Immokalee, Fla., who pick tomatoes for what activists say are unfair wages and in unsafe conditions. A tomato held pride of place on the seder plate that night.

Perez is a tomato worker himself, and a member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, whose Campaign for Fair Food has waged successful efforts to get fast-food chains like Taco Bell and McDonalds, as well as grocery stores Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, to agree to buy tomatoes only from wholesalers that have signed the CIW’s Fair Food Agreement. Among other stipulations, the agreement calls for paying pickers one cent more per pound.

The campaign is not over yet, however. Other grocery store chains, such as Stop and Shop and Publix, are holding out.

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