|Image courtesy of National Farm Worker Ministry |
via Creative Commons.
Such working conditions not only aren't the exception, they're often the default experience for many food chain workers -- those men and women (and too often, children) who are involved in producing, distributing, and selling our food.
The Food Chain Workers Alliance, a coalition of groups dedicated to "improving wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain" recently released a report "The Hands That Feed Us: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers Along the Food Chain," which explores conditions for workers in the U.S. across the entire food chain -- more than 20 million people.
The report is based on nearly 700 surveys and interviews with workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail and service, which collectively sell over $1.8 trillion dollars in goods and services each year.
Here are a few of the highlights:
- More than 86% of workers surveyed reported earning low or poverty wages.
- Nearly 60% reported experiencing an injury or health problem on the job.
- Nearly 60% lack any kind of health coverage (and 53% have admitted working while sick).
- More than 50% reported that they received no health or safety training from their employers.
There are more frequent stories in the news about the public health and environmental impacts of our food system -- and even sometimes about how the animals are treated, but attention to food workers continues to lag behind. Reports like this one provide a useful resource for humane educators to deepen and expand conversations about our food system and what justice, fairness, and equity look like.
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