In countries like South America, children 10 and younger are forced into labor camps because their farming parents cannot afford to feed them. As part of an initiative to improve workers’ lives, Chartwells Catering Company is investing in more fair trade products. 

As a member of Compass Group, a food service company with operations in 45 different countries, they are proud supporters of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program. According to Chartwells’ website, this coalition promotes better wages for participating farmers, giving them the power to change their circumstances.

To clarify, fair trade is the guarantee that producers in developing countries will be paid fairly by those in more developed countries. 

To spread word of the cause, Resident District Manager Quintin Eason spoke at a Student Government Association meeting. 

“We can become the second certified fair trade school in the nation,” Eason said. “I’ll pay 9 cents more for a pound of sugar if (I know) that I won’t be sending someone to a labor camp that’s under 10 years old.” 

He explained that the process can be difficult because the items we use every day, such as tea, coffee, oats and quinoa, have to be certified fair trade. The requirement is at least two certified items per dining location on campus. 

“Most vendors already carry fair trade products,” Eason said. “All the coffee down at Starbucks is fair trade.”

According to Nicole Young, marketing director and chef for Missouri State, the effectiveness of the enterprise relies heavily on student support.

“In addition to having a minimum of two fair trade certified products at each location, we need fair trade beverage options in catering, and we have to host education events and provide fair trade education materials online to the campus community,” Young said. “Lastly, there has to be campus support of the program. As of Jan. 30, SGA passed a resolution in support of fair trade initiatives.”

With the addition of fair trade goods, some regular products will still remain, allowing the student to choose which is best for them.

“The impact on students is whether or not they purchase the slightly more expensive fair trade tea or the regular tea,” Young said.

The proposal for fair trade was a joint decision with campus sustainability, dining services and SGA. According to Young, the initiative falls in line with Missouri State’s public affairs mission which consists of three pillars: ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement.   

“In the limited time this program has been available, we’ve already seen a tremendous amount of support and we believe it will only grow from here,” Young said.

According to Eason, Chartwells is no stranger when it comes to bettering the lives of others.

“From baking a special treat for a homesick student to initiating new sustainability platforms to delivering Thanksgiving turkeys to those in need, the Chartwells community is committed to bettering lives in every community we touch, both near and far,” Eason said.

According to Young, the living conditions of those in need is a cause worth fighting for and anything that can be done should be.