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Thursday, May 13, 2021

AS boycotts Driscoll’s Berries

Driscoll’s Berries has officially been boycotted by the Associated Students, decided in the final AS Board of Director’s meeting on Wednesday, June 9.

A resolution was signed by AS confirming their boycotting of the berry provider Driscoll’s, the leading supplier in the world as of the beginning of June.

Driscoll’s has come under fire for their alleged mistreatment of their farm workers at farms such as Sakuma Brothers in Whatcom County.

Picket lines, walk outs and litigations have since been organized. the most successful rose to the Washington Supreme Court in 2013 and resulted in state-mandated paid rest breaks. This past April, Western students picketed outside of Costco speaking out against Driscoll’s.

“We think it’s really important that students voices get involved in this fight, and our AS represent the student body as a whole,” freshman Emma Bigongiari said.

Bigongiari and three other members of WWU Students for Farmworker Justice sat at the meeting to discuss the issue.

Because the AS doesn’t have the power to bar the berry provider from campus food sources, their resolution acts more as a symbolic exercise of free speech.

“It does show that when students are putting forth the effort and work toward substantial change, they could do it.”

Abby Ramos, VP for Diversity

Board adviser Eric Alexander suggested the board deliberate on the symbolism of the resolution, potentially shifting the focus from the individual company to the broader labor practices in question.

“Pertaining to the university, it’s more so saying that students are speaking up about this,” said AS Vice President for Diversity, Abby Ramos.

The university screens comments and inquiries from students regarding issues on campus and relays them to the AS, Ramos said.

“We’re supporting students,” Ramos said. “Because of that, the university should be listening to that and doing something about it.”

At this time, Aramark, Western’s primary food provider, doesn’t use any Driscoll’s products in their supply chain.

Ramos said she acknowledges there are multiple avenues to change.

The Real Food Campus Commitment was signed by President Shepard in April, pledging that “real food” would comprise at least 20 percent of Western’s food supply by 2020. 

Real food is food harvested fairly and humanely that meets both local and economically standards, Bigongiari said.

The program took five years of campaigning to come to Western and currently spans colleges across the country.

Groups like the Food Systems Working Group are able to slowly pick out the unfairly produced food from Western’s plates, replacing it with locally harvested meat, fruit and vegetables through the program.

The group continues to picket and hold demonstrations for changes in our food supply Bigongiari said.

“It does show that when students are putting forth the effort and work toward substantial change, they could do it,” Ramos said.


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