As part of earning the Fair Trade University designation, Texas A&M University hosted educational events such as farmers markets and Campus Sustainability Day. The university will continue to host such events annually to maintain the status.
By Elena Watts, Texas A&M Marketing and Communications
Texas A&M is the 46th and largest university in the nation, and only the second in Texas, to earn official designation as a Fair Trade University from Fair Trade Campaigns, a national initiative that engages students in issues of global poverty.
Fair Trade is an economic system that ensures the products purchased by consumers are grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that improve lives and protect the environment. Fair Trade Campaigns recognizes schools committed to educating students about the issues and sourcing of Fair Trade products, such as coffee, tea and chocolate, and to providing such options on campuses.
“Fair Trade certified products are made using the highest standards in regard to social, environmental and economic standards…a focus on safe and healthy working conditions, monitoring and reducing environmental impact and empowering people and businesses around the globe is the foundation of Fair Trade,” said Chartwells District Marketing Manager Courtney Bryant Hill.
“Purchasing Fair Trade products helps to enrich the lives of farmers by providing opportunities to build sustainable businesses, provide tools to help their businesses to thrive in the years to come, and give their families access to education and health care.”
Chartwells on the campus of Texas A&M is the first-ever contract foodservice provider to initiate and achieve the designation. With the Office of Sustainability and Barnes and Noble, a large campus vendor, Chartwells developed a committee to guide the Fair Trade designation process on campus. Currently, every food and beverage outlet at Texas A&M offers at least two Fair Trade products and a committee sponsors ongoing educational events and activities to build awareness about the program.
“Being a Fair Trade University demonstrates Texas A&M University’s global leadership by utilizing socially responsible supply chains,” said Texas A&M Director of Sustainability Kelly Wellman. “Our support of Fair Trade products empowers producers to set fair prices that adequately reflect their true costs of labor and materials while also providing safe and healthy work conditions. We are delighted that Chartwells proposed the Fair Trade Campus program for our institution.”
Fair Trade products on the campus of Texas A&M include Farmer Brothers and Alter Eco coffees and teas, various 1893 and Stubborn brand sodas, Aquafina beverages, hiball energy drinks, Alter Eco truffles, barkTHINS energy bars, and a variety of Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, among other offerings.
“By becoming the largest Fair Trade University in the U.S. and committing to offer Fair Trade certified products at each dining and retail location on campus, Texas A&M is driving positive impact for producers and their families,” said Fair Trade Campaigns National Organizer Kylie Nealis. “Texas A&M is a model for other large campuses throughout the U.S. seeking to shift their purchasing to products that benefit both people and the planet. We are proud to have Texas A&M on board as a leader in the Fair Trade movement.”
With more than 170 Fair Trade Colleges and Universities in the United Kingdom alone, the program in the U.S. grew out of work in Europe and the increasing demand for Fair Trade and ethically produced products to be incorporated into institutional purchasing. Fair Trade Campaigns is working to leverage the tremendous impact institutional purchasing in the U.S. can have on farmers and artisans worldwide. There are now over 260 active Fair Trade Campaigns in towns and schools, as well as on campuses across the country.
“There are few things more exciting than seeing today’s youth come to understand the role that they can play as consumers in making the world a more fair and just place,” said Fair Trade Campaigns National Coordinator Billy Linstead Goldsmith. “To see them become not just conscious consumers, but advocates for Fair Trade, should challenge all of us to do the same.”
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young signed the official University Fair Trade Resolution in August. The Fair Trade University designation complements the Balanced U wellness program at the university that emphasizes recycling, resource conservation and waste reduction.
Media contact: Courtney Bryant, Chartwells District Marketing Manager, 979-845-4315, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kelly Wellman, Director of the Texas A&M Office of Sustainability, 979-845-1911, email@example.com; or Elena Watts, Division of Marketing & Communications, 979-458-8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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