UCC and Equal Exchange inaugurate fair-trade coffee project

UCC and Equal Exchange inaugurate fair-trade coffee project

April 30, 2004
Written by Staff Reports

Equal Exchange, a nonprofit marketer of fair-trade coffee, and the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries have teamed up to offer UCC congregations a justice-oriented approach to the Sunday morning coffee hour.

The UCC Coffee Project, launched March 27 at First Congregational UCC in Pasadena, Calif., hopes to increase use of fair-trade coffee among UCC congregations and promote greater understanding among church members of the justice issues surrounding international coffee production and global trade policies.

The project's celebrative inauguration included music by Los Jornaleros del Norte, a Central American day laborers' band.

The Rev. Jake Pomeroy, First Congregational UCC's senior pastor, says the effort provides congregations an opportunity "to plant the seeds of justice as we give birth to a broad new movement across the wider church."

Already, about 200 UCC congregations are committed to serving fair-trade coffee-hour products, says the Rev. Wallace Ryan Kuroiwa of the UCC's Economic Justice Ministry. By so doing, he says, they are ensuring that the coffee, tea and cocoa that members enjoy at church are purchased equitably and with concern for the world's poor.

Throughout the Americas, Africa and Asia, Ryan Kuroiwa says, small-operation coffee farmers are often trapped in an economic system that results in the bulk of profits being reaped by coffee traders and purveyors, not the growers.

"Farmers cannot even cover their production costs at what are historically low world-market prices," Ryan Kuroiwa says. "Equal Exchange, in contrast, supports small farmer cooperatives by guaranteeing fair prices."

In addition to purchasing justice-based products at wholesale prices, participating congregations will be supporting the UCC's ministries that advocate for small family farms in the United States and abroad. When churches make orders using the UCC Coffee Project order form, Equal Exchange will make a contribution to support the UCC Small Farmer Fund, which supports agricultural communities through relief, development and capacity building.

For more information, call toll-free at 866/822-8224, ext. 3714, or e-mail coffee@ucc.org. Equal Exchange can be reached at 781-830- 0303, ext. 228.

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