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Students push McDonald's for sale of Fair Trade coffee


By Djamila Noelle Grossman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
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Members of the campus group Students For Fair Trade questioned McDonald's in the Student Union Memorial Center yesterday about the company's stance on selling Fair Trade coffee.

Fair Trade products guarantee farmers and companies in Asia and South America a minimum working wage so they can make a living without joining a big coffee farm, said Robert Hoberg, a pre-business sophomore and club member, who talked to the store manager at McDonald's.

"We believe that Fair Trade coffee is something that contributes to world's justice," Hoberg said. "Just because McDonald's is a franchise it doesn't mean they should be exempted."

Santos Par, the store manager, said he listened to the students but could not do anything without his supervisor's consent.

Par also pointed out he shares interest in the project, but McDonald's branches nationwide are always required to purchase McDonald's products without exception.

After the students remained persistent and insisted on speaking with a supervisor, Par said he would try to set up an appointment. In the end, however, he gave the students the name of the McDonald's coffee provider and said he would tell his supervisor to call them, though he was uncertain of when that would be.

Moses Nyaribo, an aerospace engineering senior and club member, said it seems like the group will have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy to get McDonald's to offer fair trade coffee, but he hopes something productive will result from the meeting.

"Maybe it could be something national if all McDonald's buy Fair Trade coffee," Nyaribo said.

Last fall, the Students For Fair Trade met with Dining Services, the main food caterer for the university, and convinced them to buy only Seattle's Best Fair Trade coffee blends, said Nancy Garcia, a philosophy senior and club president.

At the same time, Garcia said the group collected about 1,500 signatures for a fair-trade petition, whereupon the Associated Students of the University of Arizona passed a resolution stating they "encourage all vendors on campus to sell Fair Trade coffee."



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