Food Service & Agriculture, Human Resources, and Retail

Food distributor makes Fair Food Pledge

August 23, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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SpartanNash D&W Fresh Market Grand Haven Robbins Road
D&W Fresh Market is one of the store brands by Byron Center-based SpartanNash. Courtesy SpartanNash

A local food distributor and retailer has made a new commitment to “corporate responsibility.”

SpartanNash announced today that it has signed Migrant Legal Aid’s Fair Food Pledge, a pact for fair labor practices for migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

The pledge means SpartanNash will work with Grand Rapids-based Migrant Legal Aid when suppliers show signs of unfair and unsafe work conditions for workers.

SpartanNash sources from 250 Michigan farms for its 160 stores and 2,100 customers.

Michigan is the second-most diverse state for agriculture, behind California, with 45 crops harvested by migrant and seasonal workers annually, according to SpartanNash.

"Safe and equitable" conditions

SpartanNash is the first food distributor from Michigan to sign the pledge, said Teresa Hendricks, director and senior litigator, Migrant Legal Aid.

“Migrant workers provide fresh produce for our tables, but they lack the protections and safeguards other workers enjoy under state and federal laws,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks added that with the “new alliance” between Migrant Legal Aid and SpartanNash, more than 94,000 workers and family members will be “better protected from inhumane and unethical treatment.”

“I’m ecstatic that SpartanNash cares how its products get to market and has the integrity to stand behind them with this Fair Food Pledge,” she said.

As the fifth-largest food distributor in the U.S., SpartanNash EVP of Merchandising and Marketing Larry Pierce said the well-being of communities, customers and employees is of the utmost importance to the company.

“Our customers purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at our stores every day, and we want them to know that our company is committed to providing them with produce that has been harvested under safe and equitable working conditions,” Pierce said.

Migrant Legal Aid

Migrant Legal Aid, a nonprofit founded in 1973, provides migrant workers and their families the ability to fight for safe housing, working conditions and the right to earn a fair wage. 

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