Campus offers fair trade bananas

By Abigail Keefe
February 28, 2008

Alyssa Moore/Submitted Photo

In the past two years Cabrini has begun to offer fair trade coffee. This year, Sodexho Food Services’ contribution to fair trade has become even more significant because Cabrini is now one of the few college campuses that offer fair trade bananas.

Coffee is no longer the only fair trade product offered at Cabrini. On Feb. 1, fair trade bananas were available on campus. On Feb. 20 a fair trade banana- split event was held in the Wolfington Center to honor Sodexho Food Services for their help in bringing fair trade bananas on campus.

“We wanted to celebrate, recognize and thank Sodexho for their commitment by throwing a little party or event,” Dr. Mary Laver, director of applied Catholic social teaching, said.

Fair trade coffee was first available at Cabrini last year in hopes of starting a growing trend of fair trade products on campus. Catholic Relief Services and student activists have been working with Sodexho, members of the faculty and Cabrini’s food services and retail staff, on spreading the awareness of fair trade on campus.

Fair trade is an approach to purchasing products as directly as possible from the growers or producers in struggling communities around the world. This way, the profits remain in those areas and strengthen them so people don’t lose their farms or businesses.

Drew Niemann the general manager of food services at Cabrini has been one of the many people who have been working on fair trade on Cabrini’s campus since the start. “I like to think that we are working on this initiative together,” Niemann said. “This year we have been working with a group of students who have great ideas.”

Senior English communication majors Patricia Sheehan as well as Yadira Toledo and junior psychology and special education major Jessica Zawrotny are the CRS fair trade ambassadors this year.

“We proposed the idea [to bring fair trade bananas on campus] to Sodexho here at Cabrini way back in September,” Sheehan said. “Then we had to talk to fair trade banana distributors in the area. It was a tedious process and a lot of people contributed to the goal.”

Just as everyone hoped, fair trade is now growing at Cabrini. “Jazzman’s now [offers] at least one fair trade coffee a day, the coffee in the student restaurant catering is 100 percent fair trade and the bananas in all locations are now fair trade,” Niemann says.

Out of all the fair trade products, why bananas? Coming from South American developing countries, “bananas are the up and coming thing as far as fair trade goes,” Sheehan said. “It was a big goal for us for the year. We wanted to get more products on campus and spread the word.”

The Cabrini students who were invited to the banana split event were mostly freshman who may be interested in becoming involved in fair trade or other social justice issues at Cabrini. The reason for freshman, rather than seniors, is because “they are the future and they can take their ideas on throughout their college years,” Laver stated.

Events in the past such as the fair trade coffee tasting, the holiday craft sale have made an impact on campus. Due to the success of those events, now not only is the banana split event taking place, but in addition the second annual “fair trade wallyball” tournament took place on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m., in the Dixon Center squash courts.

While the hopes are high to bring more fair trade products on campus, ideas of ways to bring awareness and interest to Cabrini and the collaboration of everyone involved is an ongoing process. Drew Niemann said, “I hope it expands to things beyond food and beverage. I would love to see this thought process [of fair trade] become part of the culture here on campus.”

The process which is involved in bringing fair trade products on campus is not an easy task. Although it can be stressful, students at Cabrini are the perfect people to take initiative. “College students are the trendsetters in the world,” Mary Laver said. “Our main goal is to keep the fair trade engine running.”

Next steps and new ideas are always being generated and put into action by the CRS fair trade ambassadors and their supporters. According to Sheehan, fair trade activists on campus are currently working on starting an official fair trade club on campus, and bringing more products to Cabrini.

Neimann said that the next steps of the process are focused on “to get others to join the fight.”

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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