Student trip prompts Fair Trade coffee expansion

By Christine Graf
April 30, 2009

Megan Pellegrino

Cabrini’s catering service, Sodexo, is currently negotiating with San Lucas Mission’s fairly traded Juan Ana coffee to be featured in over 200 of Jazzman’s locations throughout the United States during October, which is Fair Trade month.

The idea was sparked when Drew Niemann, Sodexo’s general manager for Cabrini College, heard that the college president, five students, two faculty members and two staff members would be visiting a fairly-traded coffee farm in Guatemala.

“I try to take what’s important to the school and take what they are trying to accomplish and incorporate it into our services .especially when it is something like this, an important cause,” Niemann said.

The trip to Guatemala was a jump-start on the college’s new curriculum Justice Matters, to be implemented in the fall.

“We are, through our students, partnering with a corporation to develop and deepen a commitment to social justice, which is really a big contribution,” Dr. Mary Laver, director of international partnerships and participant of the trip, said. “We’re walking the walk and not just talking in the classroom.”

San Lucas Mission’s Juan Ana coffee is dedicated to paying their farmers a fair wage no matter the current price of coffee, which tends to fluctuate.

While visiting the mission Cabrini students worked alongside Guatemalan farmers helping to pick and sort the coffee berries that could very well be the coffee on campus in October.

“Picking coffee in Guatemala was an amazing experience. It was something I had never done before and never expected to do. I didn’t realize how much hard work was put into a cup of coffee,” Jillian Smith, senior English and communication major and a participant of the trip, said.

Sodexo coffee supplier, May orga Coffee, visited Juan Ana coffee farmers on a fact-finding mission two weeks after the Cabrini visitors parted the mission.

After making a commitment to sustainability in 2006 by launching its own line of proprietary coffee, Sodexo was eager to make Juan Ana coffee one of their noteworthy coffees in the future.

“It is our every intention that we can get this accomplished,” Niemann said.

Unfortunately, Juan Ana Coffee had to minimize the amount of coffee they will be able to sell due to an extremely low harvest of coffee available for purchasing.

“Mayorga Coffee [Sodexo’s supplier] has been flexible and understanding,” Josiah Mooney, co-administrator for San Lucas Mission, said.

Although there are still some logistics being sorted out, both parties are committed to making Juan Ana coffee available for Fair Trade Month in over 200 Jazzman’s locations this October.

“It is so gratifying to know that Sodexo is taking this initiative to use the Juan Ana fairly traded coffee, and that we had a hand in forming this relationship,” Jessica Hagerty, senior English and communication major and participant of the trip, said.

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Christine Graf

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