RAISE THE BAR CAMPAIGN
Did you know that much of the chocolate - candy, cocoa, ice cream - you eat is made with ingredients produced by slave labor? Next time you buy a chocolate product check to see whether it has a label certifying it as being made from cacao beans produced without labor by abducted children. You can find a list of these labels at this site.
Particularly in the West African countries of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana large plantations use this type of labor to harvest the crop. Children from neighboring Mali are often the targets of false promises of easy money and are smuggled across the border by motorcycle taxis. Once there they are exposed to long hours, dangerous conditions and no chance to escape.
In spite of signing an International Labour Organization (ILO) protocol in 2001, some major chocolate producers purchase their ingredients from export companies that are ignoring the protocol. The chocolate companies use the excuse that they don’t own the plantations so they have no control.
The major American company guilty of continuing these practices is Hershey. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), of which some of you are members, is partnering with several other groups to tell Hershey to “Raise the Bar” and change its practices. You can find more information about what is happening and how to help by checking the websites of these groups.
Did you ever make S’mores - perhaps as part of a summer vacation or camping trip. A special part of this campaign is the “We Want More from our S’mores”. This is asking people around the country to hold S’more parties this summer using Fair Trade chocolate. Then send the information about the party to one of the organizing groups such as www.raisethebarhershey.org or www.change.org . The group will let Hershey know how we feel about their lack of action.
Next time you’re at First Parish you can sign a petition for Hershey. Or sign one online at one of the sites listed above.