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Equitable Food Initiative Receives $2M Grant From Walmart Foundation; Peter O'Driscoll, Gavin Bailey, and Christy Slay Comment

Equitable Food Initiative Receives $2M Grant From Walmart Foundation; Peter O'Driscoll, Gavin Bailey, and Christy Slay Comment



WASHINGTON - A two-year grant was recently announced, and Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) is the lucky, hard-working recipient. The Walmart Foundation recently awarded the workforce development and certification organization a $2 million grant to support the implementation of the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices.

Peter O'Driscoll, Executive Director, Equitable Food Initiative“Since the Ethical Charter was launched, EFI has worked with buyers and growers to develop scalable, supplier-owned strategies to build the capacity of employers to strengthen their policies and procedures regarding management of their workforce,” remarked Peter O’Driscoll, Executive Director of EFI. “Rather than an audit-based approach to compliance, this program will focus on self-assessment, capacity-building, and measurement of continuous improvement as the most effective ways to advance responsible labor practices at scale.”

For this project, EFI is partnering with The Sustainability Consortium (TSC). The charter was adopted in July 2018 and offers an industry framework for accountability and transparency related to respect for laws at work, respect for professional conduct, and respect for human rights. Since then, more than 500 industry organizations have endorsed the Ethical Charter.

The Walmart Foundation recently awarded EFI a $2 million grant to support the implementation of the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices

The grant builds on a successful pilot program during 2019–2021 with four buyers, 20 suppliers, and 40 growers that tested the use of a self-assessment questionnaire and supporting resources to help growers identify and improve the management systems. According to the release, the Walmart grant funds the next stage of work with the creation of the Ethical Charter Implementation Program to further improve and expand this approach.

An initial cohort of suppliers and their growers will be invited to engage in the program in early 2023, and over time it will become available to any grower supplying fresh produce to the North American market.

Gavin Bailey, Program Officer, Walmart.org“The Ethical Charter sets out guiding principles around responsible labor practices that seek to strengthen the dignity of agricultural workers and improve practices in global supply chains,” commented Gavin Bailey, Program Officer, Walmart.org team. “The Walmart Foundation is pleased to fund the next iteration of this work aimed at supporting the industry to implement the Ethical Charter, unlock the full potential of the initiative, and strengthen protections for agricultural workers.”

EFI’s collaboration with TSC will allow suppliers to share aggregated updates on grower and supplier continuous improvement through TSC’s The Sustainability Insight System (THESIS) platform.

Christy Slay, Chief Executive Officer, The Sustainability Consortium“TSC is proud to work with EFI to help growers and suppliers continue to improve their practices and grow their capacity to fully implement the Ethical Charter. TSC’s mission is to make all products sustainable,” TSC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Christy Slay stated. “This begins with helping growers achieve more responsible labor practices through science-based assessments so that they can demonstrate improvement within the industry.”

Since the launch of the Ethical Charter, EFI has worked with a group of retailers as well as suppliers and other partners to support the field-level application of charter principles.

The grant builds on a successful pilot program during 2019–2021 with four buyers, 20 suppliers, and 40 growers that tested the use of a self-assessment questionnaire and supporting resources to help growers identify and improve the management systems

“EFI is delighted to receive this grant from the Walmart Foundation as a transformative opportunity to improve the lives of the essential workers on whom the produce industry depends. We will work with other produce leaders to co-create resources that support the continuous improvement of labor practices and that ultimately benefit the entire produce industry,” O’Driscoll concluded. “Both EFI and TSC are multi-stakeholder organizations committed to strategies that create value for all participants. In the Ethical Charter Implementation Program, we see a tremendous opportunity to work with buyers, suppliers, growers, and workers to strengthen the systems that support responsible labor practices.”

ANUK will continue to keep a pulse on the radar, so keep a tab open.

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Equitable Food Initiative

The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) brings together workers, growers and retailers in the effort to produce better fruits...