Posted on: May 14, 2019 at 5:27 pm
Last updated: December 2, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Last week, comedian and actor, Amy Schumer took a moment from her baby preparation to send a public message to Wendy’s and to encourage her fan base to boycott the company.


Amy Schumer Challenges Wendy’s to Stand Up for Farmworker Women

“Wendy’s is the only fast food chain refusing to protect farm worker women from sexual assault and rape in the fields. This is true. Please read that sentence again. Message for the people in charge: Instead of spicy nuggets, we want food that is harvested with dignity NOT violence. Please join the Fair Food Program and #BoycottWendys link in my bio of how you can help,” she wrote on her Instagram page.

Schumer referred to the Fair Food Program (FFP), which is a “unique partnership among farmers, farm workers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. It harnesses the power of consumer demand to give farm workers a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and to eliminate the longstanding abuses that have plagued agriculture for generations.” (1)

One of the FFP’s focuses is to make agricultural industries a safer place for women across the globe to work in. By working with suppliers and buyers of farm foods, they hope to educate workers about their rights, pay employees fairly, and resolve complaints of abuse and violence in the workplace.


To date, the following brands have voluntarily partnered with the Fair Food Program: (2)

  • Ahold USA (2015)
  • Fresh Market (2015)
  • Walmart (2014)
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (2012)
  • Trader Joe’s (2012)
  • Sodexo (2010)
  • Aramark (2010)
  • Compass Group (2009)
  • Bon Appetit Management Company (2009)
  • Subway (2008)
  • Whole Foods Market (2008)
  • Burger King (2008)
  • McDonald’s (2007)
  • Yum Brands (2005)

But sorely missing from this list, you’ll notice. Is Wendy’s.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has called out Wendy’s for being among the last largest food corporations in the US “who has refused to join the Fair Food Program and respect the rights and dignity of farmworkers in its supply chain”.

Wendy’s has since responded to the public backlash with the following statement, published by Delish:


“This is a complex issue, but be assured that we do not purchase the field grown product that the Fair Food Program covers. In fact, Wendy’s is proud to only purchase tomatoes from indoor hydroponic North American farms. We are excited about the superior quality of these tomatoes, and this move further strengthens our commitment to responsible sourcing practices by providing safe, indoor working conditions, shelter from the elements and environmental contaminants, reduced water and land use burdens, and a significantly reduced need for chemical pesticides. Further, all of our suppliers must adhere to our Supplier Code of Conduct which includes requirements related to human rights and labor practices. You can find more information about our position on this matter on our blog.”

Alyssa Milano Says This Simply Isn’t Good Enough

Actor, producer, and activist, quickly weighed in on the conversation and responded to a public message to Wendy’s, calling them out on putting business goals before social justice. She posted this message on her Instagram account:

Sorry, Wendy’s, but this is the opposite of a complex issue. This is about sexual violence against women in the workplace, the only program proven to end that violence in the US agricultural industry and your refusal to join that program, plain and simple. But because you are so desperately trying to spin your way out of a public relations disaster, I have to answer your disinformation with the truth.

Truth number one: The Fair Food Program is in now way limited to field-grown tomatoes. In fact, one of its leading participating growers in Florida is a hydroponic, greenhouse farm, just like the ones you buy from. Instead of trying to hide behind your new greenhouse suppliers, why don’t you use your purchasing power to bring them into the Fair Food Program, too, like your fast-food competitors have done with their Florida tomato suppliers? Maybe there’s something in your supply chain that you are afraid to expose to the Fair Food Program’s award-winning complaint investigation process and workplace audits? Which brings me to my next truth….”

Truth Number Two: The Fair Food Program is recognized by human rights observers from the White House to the United Nations as the single most effective program for monitoring and enforcing farmworkers’ human rights, bar none. The list of those who have praised the Fair Food Program for its unique success is long, and includes, for the purposes of setting the facts straight, the EEOC, the very government department charged with stopping sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Meanwhile, leading human rights experts put no faith in your corporate code of conduct. Just ask Fordham University Law Professor Jim Brudney, who wrote in an op/ed that “voluntary codes like the one promulgated by Wendy’s are too often little more than a sham.”

It’s time to stop hiding behind your public relations department and do what McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell and Chipotle did years ago: join the Fair Food Program and do your part to help end decades of sexual violence against women in the US agricultural industry.

Which brings me to the third and final truth: It’s never too late, Wendy’s, to do the right thing.

Of course, by no means are we suggesting that Hearty Soul readers should start loading up on McDonald’s french fries because the company has made a commitment to workplace equity. Rather, we hope this recent public outcry points to a bigger picture: The choices you make about the food you eat don’t only affect your own health, wellbeing, and longevity, they have an impact for better or for worse on countless people you may never meet.

So, continue to try to eat a whole foods diet, continue to choose organic/non-GMO and pesticide-free ingredients, and continue to nourish your body with foods that help it, not harm it. But we encourage you to also take a moment to consider the following:

Things to Consider About Your Dietary Impact

Learning to eat a truly ethical (and healthy) diet takes time. But with a commitment to learning more about the impact your food has on your body, your community, other people, and the planet, you can make a real difference.

1. What is environmental racism? How do parts of the American food industry disproportionately expose low-income communities and people of color to toxic chemicals?

Related: Explore The Hearty Soul’s Collection of Vegan Friendly Recipes and Inspiration

2. How do food industries in the USA and worldwide use misleading language to dupe consumers into believing their meats are sourced from farms with “humane” practices?

3. How does commercial fishing across the globe deplete the ocean’s natural resources, damage its precarious ecosystems, and create a reliance on farmed fish?

Related: 9 Facts About Farmed Fish You Need to Know

4. Are you sure that the low price tag of your “cheap” imported ingredients in your grocery cart aren’t a result of forced manual labor in other countries? Especially children?

Related: 9 popular chocolate brands that have made their products using child slaves

5. Are you minimizing the number of plastics and disposable packaging as much as possible when you shop for foods? Do you prefer brands that commit to sustainable packaging, recycling, or composting?

Related: Thailand Supermarket Ditches Plastic Packaging For Banana Leaves

Maria Sykes
Team Writer
Marie Sykes is an Ontario based writer with a background in research and a love for holistic wellness. She's especially interested in boosting awareness for women's health issues. Once a shunner of gyms, Marie has found an appreciation for weight training and HIIT circuits. She enjoys trying cuisine from all over the world, and she also enjoys not caring two cents what other people think her body should look like.

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