Equitable Food Initiative Receives Walmart Foundation Grant
WASHINGTON, DC - Walmart is making waves by granting $1.2 million to Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) in order to advance responsible labor practices through workforce development programs on fresh produce farms in Mexico. The Walmart Foundation grant runs through the end of 2020 and will support EFI in offering workforce development and certification programs to more Mexican suppliers.
“The grant support allows EFI to work across groups of growers, to expand its direct programs, and to deliver capacity, learning, and tools more widely than its immediate networks. EFI is well-positioned to drive this needed learning, collaboration, and problem-solving, given its experience implementing its assurance program in Mexico over the past several years,” said Karrie Denniston, Senior Director, Walmart.org, which represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation.
According to the press release, the grant also supports outreach to and collaboration with like-minded organizations that want to expand social assurance protections for produce farmworkers in Mexico. EFI will work with partners to develop training workshops, assessment tools, and other materials that introduce continuous improvement and problem-solving strategies that promote responsible labor practices on Mexican farms.
In 2018, the fresh produce industry published the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices, a charter outlining the guiding principles and effectively elevating labor concerns to the same critical level as food safety. Due to this publication, suppliers will need additional tools and resources to fully abide by charter principles and provide verification to customers and consumers.
“The ethical charter is an important commitment and market signal for improved practices, but it will take leadership and investment from a range of stakeholders to ensure that the principles laid out in the charter become the norm for the produce industry,” said Peter O’Driscoll, Executive Director for Equitable Food Initiative. “We applaud the Walmart Foundation’s grant-making to build capacity in this area and look forward to implementing our program and to working with other stakeholders from the public, private, and civil society sectors to promote the charter.”
Another key focus of the grant is to strengthen EFI’s capacity to develop responsible recruitment programs, to work with and build the capacity of Mexican organizations, and to engage public and private sector leaders on recruitment challenges.
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