EFI Offers Resources for Farmworker Protection and Continuity of Supply During the Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, DC - Having the right tools in your toolbox can be the difference between responding to challenges with actionable solutions rather than succumbing to them. Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) is making sure its grower, farmworker, retailer, and consumer advocacy partners have more than the right tools in their toolbox with its curated library of best-in-class resources and practices.
“As EFI-certified farms do everything in their power to keep workers safe while maintaining continuity of supply, they are looking to organizations like EFI to help them navigate this unprecendented situation,” said LeAnne Ruzzamenti, Director of Marketing Communications for EFI. “To this end, we are offering a variety of resources on our website, including educational materials to distribute to workers and suggested processes for communication, hygiene, distancing, and guestworker housing. We hope that the best thinking of worker-manager collaborative teams can assist other growers in keeping their workers safe and their businesses moving forward.”
EFI’s new library of resources will provide essential strategies for employee communication during the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other responsible labor and food safety practices.
“I have often remarked how thankful I am for the EFI workforce development model and the importance of worker-manager teams but that has never been more evident than during this crisis,” said Vic Smith, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of JV Smith Companies. “The ability for these already-established teams to be communicating and solving problems immediately as this issue gained traction has been critical in our ability to not only protect our workers, but continue to serve our customers.”
To curate its library and generate the necessary educational materials, EFI worked with its certified growers to learn from their worker-manager teams. As a result, the library contains the combined knowledge from worker-manager EFI leadership teams, who have been trained in communication and problem-solving skills to comply with EFI standards. During this crisis, according to a press release, these teams have come together to adapt public health guidance to the realities of modern produce production.
Some of the resources included in the library feature the following materials, practices, and strategies:
- Worker education materials in English and Spanish, highlighting preventative measures
- Guidance and recommended practices culled from industry sources and public health organizations
- Best thinking from farming operations with EFI worker-manager collaborative teams to create safety measures in response to the coronavirus
“The steps we are taking to ensure the safety of our team are evolving nearly every day, and we were happy to share our ideas and systems so that others in the industry can benefit from the thinking of our Process Improvement Teams,” said Marylu Ramirez, Human Resources Manager for Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce/GoodFarms. “Collaborating across the industry and relying on one another’s best thinking is exactly what we all need to help overcome this outbreak.”
Though these resources are readily available now, EFI is also looking to collaborate with other industry members on their ideas and COVID-19 strategies.
“I am proud of the work that EFI-certified farms are doing to keep workers safe and serve as a resource for other grower-shippers around the country,” Ruzzamenti concluded. “We did not envision that a pandemic would highlight the need for this programming, but we have always understood that a healthy and well-respected labor force is critical to a safer and continuous food supply.”
To access EFI’s resources, click here. And for more essential produce industry news, stay tuned to AndNowUKnow.