Community Engagement News

Mar 13, 2023. 5 min read

Community Engagement News March 13, 2023


Students Urge U.S. Lawmakers to ‘Support Legislation that Builds Healthy, Equitable, and Sustainable Food Systems’

Florence French Fagan

Bread for the World’s Senior Southeast Regional Organizer Florence French Fagan speaks with students and faculty members about the need for racial equity in efforts to address food insecurity and hunger. – Photo contributed

After learning about the “racial wealth gap,” a group of Barry students has urged lawmakers to “support legislation that builds healthy, equitable, and sustainable food systems.”

Specifically, the students asked Florida’s U.S. senators and two U.S. representatives from Miami to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables by supporting produce-specific Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program.

The students also asked legislators to eliminate barriers to SNAP for marginalized populations by ending the ban on former drug offenders, eliminating work requirements for college students, and permitting indigenous communities to administer SNAP and other federal nutrition programs on reservations.

As Congress works to renew the nation’s food and farm programs through the Farm Bill, the students have called on the lawmakers to support post-harvest food recovery efforts and address the threat to food security posed by extreme weather.

In letters emailed to U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Representatives Frederica Wilson and Mario Diaz-Balart recently, the students noted that the Farm Bill is the nation’s “most important national food system legislation.” The legislation is critical to the work of ending hunger at home and abroad, they noted further.

Students pictured participating in Bread for the World’s racial wealth gap learning simulation

Students pictured participating in Bread for the World’s racial wealth gap learning simulation, which took place in Thompson Hall’s Kostka Room on February 25. – Photo contributed

Bread for the World
Farm Bill

After learning about the “racial wealth gap,” the students engaged in antihunger advocacy, calling on legislators to support a Farm Bill that results in healthy, equitable, and sustainable food systems.

Florence French Fagan, Bread for the World’s senior southeast regional organizer, conducted a “racial wealth gap” learning simulation on campus last month. She told students and faculty members about the privileging and deprivileging of communities through unfair policies and laws favoring some individuals and communities over others. And she spoke of the need to emphasize racial equity considerations in efforts to address food insecurity and hunger.

The 27 students who took part in the simulation and “offering of letters”—as Bread for the World calls it—are enrolled in service-learning courses. They found the simulation “interesting” and “informative.”

Dr. Pawena Sirimangkala, a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences, noted that her students “are now armed with information that can only contribute to the much-needed policy changes in this great country of ours.”

Bread for the World is “a Christian advocacy organization urging U.S. decision makers to do all they can to pursue a world without hunger.” The organization’s mission is “to educate and equip people to advocate for policies and programs that can help end hunger in the U.S. and around the world.”

Barry Students and Staff to Participate in Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ ‘Build a New World’ March This Saturday

'Build a New World' March
'Build a New World' March

Last year, students and staff from Barry were among hundreds of people who marched in Palm Beach, where they called on The Wendy’s Company to support the Fair Food Program and thus help to end modern-day slavery in the fields. – CCSI file photos

A representative group of students and staff members from Barry will participate in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) “Build a New World” march this Saturday (March 18) in Palm Beach.  

The Barry group will be among scores of people representing worker and faith organizations, higher education institutions, and community groups who will gather at Lake Drive Park before taking to the streets for a two-mile march. They will call on Fair Food Program holdouts Wendy’s, Publix, and Kroger to join the program, which provides “human rights protections for the farmworkers who make their profits possible.”

The march in Palm Beach will mark the end of a five-day demonstration, scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Pahokee, Florida. The demonstration will feature a march covering 45 miles, the CIW announced last month.

Early Tuesday morning, Immokalee farmworkers and their families will travel 80 miles northeast to Pahokee for the opening ceremony. They will be joined by religious leaders, students, low-wage workers, and consumer allies.

The location of the opening ceremony is the site where, in 2016, two farmworkers with guestworker visas escaped from a labor camp surrounded by barbed wire by hiding in the trunk of a car. Those two workers, fleeing inhumane working conditions under the control of farm boss Bladimir Moreno, called the CIW to report what they had experienced and to seek help. The CIW promptly referred the case to federal authorities. In December 2022, after a lengthy investigation and prosecution, Moreno was sentenced to nearly 10 years in federal prison on charges of conspiracy to commit forced labor and organized crime.

“Build a New World: March for Farmworker Freedom” is the theme of this week’s CIW-led demonstration.

Since the inception of the Fair Food Program more than a decade ago in Immokalee, “two parallel worlds have existed” within U.S. agriculture, the CIW said in a statement. The CIW identified “the world of freedom from abuse on farms under the [Fair Food Program], and the world of harsh exploitation outside its protections.”

The statement continued: “Inside the world of the Fair Food Program, workers have the power and the tools to be the frontline monitors of their own rights. Outside the program, farmworkers are subjected to a litany of human rights abuses, including sexual harassment and abuse, wage theft, and modern-day slavery.”

Saturday’s culminating portion of the demonstration will include poetry, music, call-and-response chants, and a theatre-like performance in the park. Then, the CIW statement said, “we will take to the streets—workers and conscious consumers, shoulder to shoulder—to build a new world of freedom for all farmworkers.”

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers created the Fair Food Program more than a decade ago. The program provides human rights protections for farmworkers.

Last year, an estimated 800 people marched in Palm Beach. Led by CIW representatives, the marchers called on The Wendy’s Company to join the Fair Food Program and thus help to end “modern-day slavery” in the fields. Nelson Peltz, chairman of The Wendy’s Company, lives in Palm Beach.

The demonstrators marched down a ritzy section of the city, past the offices of Peltz’s investment fund, Trian Partners, which is a part owner of the fast-food restaurant chain.

It was the first big action in the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) over two years earlier. The crowd heard about farmworkers’ appalling experiences—being injured on the job, lacking access to clean drinking water, and being sexually harassed and sometimes assaulted while working on farms.

McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Yum! Brands, and Chipotle, as well as major grocers and food service companies such as Whole Foods, Walmart, Aramark, and Compass, have joined the Fair Food Program.

Barry students and staff members who will take part in Saturday’s march are asked to register in GivePulse and at the CIW registration site.

Campus Democracy Project Organizers Schedule ‘Legislative’ and ‘Democracy’ Forums

Sen. Jason Pizzo

Sen. Jason Pizzo participated in the most recent “Legislative Forum” organized as part of the CDP. – Photo by Glenn Bowen

As part of Barry’s Campus Democracy Project (CDP), a “Legislative Forum” will take place later this month and a “Democracy Forum” next month.

The “Legislative Forum” is set for March 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., when the focus will be on an update from the Village of Miami Shores. Village officials will be invited to participate.

On April 19, a “Democracy Forum” will engage participants in a discussion on “Preparing for the Future: Getting Ready for the 2024 Elections.” The two-hour event is slated to begin at noon.

The most recent “Legislative Forum” took place as a virtual event on January 25. The forum featured a discussion with Sen. Jason Pizzo, who fielded questions about a variety of issues—from property insurance and gun control to gender affirmation surgery and the removal of African American Studies from the Advanced Placement curriculum.

The CDP is a civic learning and democratic engagement project coordinated by the Center for Community Service Initiatives (CCSI). The CCSI and the CDP Committee are encouraging students, faculty, and staff to attend the March and April forums.

For additional information on the CDP forums, contact Dr. Sean Foreman in the Department of History and Political Science at or the CCSI at

Federal Work-Study Community Service

For information on Federal Work-Study Community Service, contact the program facilitator via email at

Community Engagement News is a publication of the Center for Community Service Initiatives.

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