Bon Appétit harvests efforts to advocate for farmworkers’ rights


Members of LEAP meet with Nicole Tocco, a Senior Fellow at the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Tocco

Lafayette and Bon Appétit held events this week in celebration of National Farmworker Awareness Week, held to appreciate those that produce and harvest the food that students eat every day.

Nicole Tocco, a Senior Fellow at the Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation visited Lafayette earlier this week to take part in the events. She works to advocate for farmworker’s rights, saying that “raising awareness about conditions that farmworkers face is the first step towards creating change.” As a way to promote this change, a table was set up on campus where students were able to view the pennies-per-pound price of common produce farmworkers earn for hand-harvesting them.

Tocco also held an event with LEAP, Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection, to discuss important issues impacting the food system and to examine ways in which Bon Appétit is addressing those issues. To further implement change, Bon Appétit partnered with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in 2009 to improve the treatment of farmworkers. They then partnered with the United Farmworkers and Oxfam America to create the “Inventory of Farmworker Rights and Protections.”

“Our tagline at Bon Appetit is ‘food service for a sustainable future’ and our ultimate goal is no less than that,” Tocco wrote in an email.

Efforts funded through advocacy events such as Farmworkers Awareness Week allows students to understand the importance of rights as well as the need to encourage sustainable and moral food sources. At a table in Marquis, a sign stated: “A food system that is cheap, but is built on the backs of the poor, is not moral and is not sustainable.” Tocco firmly believes farmworkers are an invaluable part of the food system and that they “deserve to be treated with respect and paid a fair wage.”

Bon Appetit is striving for the ability to know that their crops are being bought from farms that “treat workers with respect, and that those workers can afford to support their families.” They plan to venture further to raise awareness and find solutions for all these problems in all parts of the country.

President of LEAP Julia Kripas ‘15 said she is pleased with Bon Appetit’s work to “increase the amount of local food and organic food,” along with their openness to student input.

“Bon Appetit promotes the local famers [through] supporting them and [doing] business with them,” Kripas said.


William Gordon ’17 contributed to this report.