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September 23, 2014 | 28th Elul 5774

Fair Trade Coffee

Approved by the Commission on Social Action
November 2002



Coffee is world's second largest traded commodity after oil, with worldwide sales of $55 billion. It is also the leading source of income for the developing world. Over 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries rely on coffee sales for their livelihood. These farmers now face a crisis as coffee prices have plummeted in recent years, with many farmers forced to sell their harvest for as little as 60% of the cost of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. With no income from their only cash crop, farmers have no money to buy enough food to feed their families, much less pay for education and health care.

Fair Trade coffee is a real solution for some of these farmers. Fair Trade certification ensures coffee farmers are paid a decent, living wage for their harvest; encourages democratically organized farming cooperatives; provides access to affordable credit, which helps farmers stay out of debt; and promotes sustainable practices, such as organic farming, which helps protect the environment.

We look to our movement's commitment to fighting hunger by supporting Mazon as an example of how we can integrate social justice into our daily spending & lifestyle choices. Whenever we celebrate we think of those less fortunate and donate a portion of our money to help feed those in need. By choosing to spend a few cents more on Fair Trade certified coffee we support a living wage for farmers, increased educational opportunities for rural children, and improved environmental standards. As Jews we have an obligation not only to assist the downtrodden but also to help those in need become self-sufficient (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah). A commitment by our community to purchase Fair Trade certified coffee is one way we can fulfill this obligation.

THEREFORE, the Commission on Social Action resolves to:

  1. Encourage all arms of the Reform Movement, including the UAHC, the CCAR, affiliate organizations as well as individual congregations and individuals, to purchase Fair Trade coffee for all office consumption, for all events, including national and regional biennials, and for personal use.

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