Pomona Gains Fair Trade Certification

Pomona College became the eleventh college in the nation to be certified as a fair trade school by the organization Fair Trade Colleges and Universities Sept. 12.

Charlotte Dohrn PO ’13, Maya Horgan PO ’13 and Andrea Diaz PO ’15 spearheaded the effort to achieve the certification.  

“Last semester [we worked] to put together a fair trade resolution and procurement policy so that we could apply to be recognized as a fair trade college,” Dohrn said. “Over the past few years we have had increasing amounts of fair trade products in our dining halls and stores, which is really great, and we wanted to get recognition for the efforts and resources put into that by Dining.”

“We were already buying fair trade coffee, fair trade tea and, at the time, fair trade sugar. We were basically doing everything with regard to purchasing that was required,” said Samantha Meyer, Sustainability and Purchasing Coordinator for Dining Services.

Since fair trade products come from workers who are paid fairly, they are generally more expensive, which limits the dining halls’ ability to purchase them. Meyer said in an e-mail that the dining halls have stopped buying fair-trade sugar.

“It’s going to be a constant discussion about feasibility,” Dohrn said. “I think there’s going to be a constant negotiation with our budget in Dining to see what’s viable.”

Dohrn, Horgan and Diaz also started a fair trade club this year.

“The reason why we started the club was because we wanted to get more students involved in making [fair trade] more visible on campus so that there is a wider dialogue on campus about what fair trade is, what works about it, what doesn’t work about it,” Dorhn said. “In our meetings, we’re hoping to discuss something recent that has come up about fair trade so that we can keep ourselves educated.”

“I think it’s really important in a larger sense, to understand where our food is coming from and how it is produced,” Meyer said. “There’s a lot of issues these days with unfair labor practices in the food industry and how people are paid for their crops, especially larger commodity crops.”

Several events at Pomona are examining fair trade this semester. On Sept. 18, the Environmental Analysis Department and Dining Services held a screening of “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” which examines the exploitation of children in the African chocolate industry. In November, the Pomona Student Union (PSU) plans to hold a panel that focuses on the issue of fair trade.

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