New Report Exposes Corporate Control of Public Supply Chains and the Communities Reclaiming Them
A new report released today from the Food Chain Workers Alliance and HEAL Food Alliance analyzes how grassroots leaders have won policies in 10 U.S. cities that hold institutions accountable to purchasing food from suppliers who support people working on the frontlines, local communities, animals, and the environment – collectively influencing over $540 million in public food dollars.
Procuring Food Justice: Grassroots Solutions for Reclaiming Public Supply Chains distills lessons from a decade of organizing to offer advocates a new blueprint for leveraging a “values-based purchasing” strategy to challenge corporate control of public food and redirect billions of taxpayer dollars toward small producers, producers of color, and suppliers with fair labor practices.
“This new analysis reveals how just a handful of corporations have seized near-total control of our public supply chains so they can rake in profits while paying workers poverty wages, putting lives at risk with hazardous working conditions, and retaliating against workers who exercise their right to organize,” said Christina Spach, Food Campaigns Director at the Food Chain Workers Alliance. “This report outlines opportunities for leveraging public contracts to hold these corporations accountable. In order for public contracts to reflect public values, we must demand transparency from suppliers and establish consequences for companies that do not follow fair labor practices.”
“Three out of five kids rely on the food served in public schools, and they deserve food systems that support them, not entrench them in the current state of inequality” said Jose Oliva, Campaigns Director at HEAL Food Alliance. “These massive food corporations are using taxpayer dollars to increase their own profit margins at the expense of our children, working people, and the planet. The solutions detailed in this report show that it is possible to get quality, nutritious, and sustainable food into schools and other public feeding programs – where kids and families need it most.”
The report draws on the testimonies of organizers and advocates on the ground, including surveys of 83 people working on the frontlines of production and warehousing; case studies with farmers, food aggregators, and processing plant workers; and 50 interviews with organizers, farmers, advocates, and academics. The report concludes that there are two primary needs for the future success of this work: supply chain transparency and real enforcement mechanisms.
“Our local work to implement values-based food procurement is only possible with meaningful support from our state government. New York has some of the most restrictive procurement laws in the country, so we are keenly aware that lowest bidder requirements are incredibly prohibitive and do not create enough space for food purchasing to be democratized across municipalities. Eliminating lowest bidder requirements and lifting barriers to values-based food procurement allows municipalities to make decisions about their institutional food purchasing needs that are aligned with the values of the communities they are serving.”
Director of the NY Good Food Purchasing Program Campaign
Community Food Advocates
“I asked for the data [for procurement contracts]. Who bought from whom? Who ends up with the contracts? The three privileged white farmers that already had a monopoly on everything because they “work with organic methods.” Well, so do all of us [ACN’s Black, Indigenous and producers of color], but because they had that longevity of farming, they also had the capital, the land, the resources, the labor, and they had their white skin privilege.”
Director of Agri-Cultura Co-operative Network
The full report is available at: procuringfoodjustice.org