21.5 million people work in the food system in the U.S., joining millions around the world who labor on farms and in meat, poultry and food processing facilities, warehouses, grocery stores and restaurants. The food system is the largest employer in the U.S., yet pays the lowest hourly median wage at $10. Thirteen percent of all food workers, nearly 2.8 million workers, relied on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (food stamps) to feed their household in 2016. This was 2.2 times the rate of all other industries, a much higher rate than in 2010 when food workers had to use food stamps at 1.8 times the rate of all other industries. (Click here to learn more about food workers)
The members of the Alliance decided to create a comic book focused on food workers in order to illustrate the issues facing these workers, as well as their efforts to organize to improve their workplaces, their communities, and the food system. Luis DeLeon, a restaurant worker and member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Chicago, volunteered to write the backstory for the comic book. He created five characters, each representing one of the five main sectors of the food system, and he called them the Food Chain Avengers.
The Food Chain Avengers comic book uses examples drawn from real experiences by workers in their respective industries, and the five main characters of the story walk us through each of five sectors of the food chain: production, processing, distribution, retail, and food service. The comic book exposes the exploitative nature of the industry vis-à-vis its workers, communities, and the environment. Ultimately, it tells the story of a struggle to win justice.
Food Chain Avengers is illustrated and written by artist Jerel Dye. Jerel is an artist, illustrator, and designer based in Massachusetts. While in high school he worked as a pizza chef. You can learn more about Jerel’s work at http://jereldye.com/blog/.
You can order printed copies in English using the form below (color cover/black and white inside). You can also download a PDF of comic book in color in Spanish, English, Chinese, and Portuguese. We have also developed discussion guides with suggested homework assignments for middle school students (Spanish here) and high school students (Spanish here)that list the Common Core English Language Arts Standards that the comic book and discussion guides address. We also have a discussion guide for adults (Spanish here).