Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Tribute to a Friend

We celebrate the life of John Haaland, a long time Bread for the World member in New Mexico, who passed away on April 15 at the age of 94.

In this picture (September 1994), John is second from the left just behind his wife Chris. Also pictured are Bread for the World members Kathy Rockow and Bro. Jim Brown. The photo was taken during a local ceremony celebrating Bread for the World's 20th anniversary.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 25, 2009, 3:00 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1100 Indian School Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87102. A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers Memorial contributions may be made to The Storehouse or St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Below are some of excerpts from an obituary that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal.

John was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, since 1948. His interest in children and Christian education led to many years of service as a Sunday school teacher and superintendent. Over the years John served the church at local, regional and national levels with his leadership, time, and commitment.
Ecumenism was also an issue of great interest for John. He served on the New Mexico Conference of Churches Board for 6 years and was a member of the Albuquerque Division of the NM Council of Churches.
He was president of The Storehouse in Albuquerque for 12 years and was instrumental in gaining support and financial resources from the national church for this community resource. John continued serving on the board into his 90's and was made Emeritus Board Member in 2008.

While working with the growing numbers of hungry people in Albuquerque, John realized that changes in our government processes were necessary to improve the lives of the poor. He became an advocate who gave voice to persons with no political voice.
He was instrumental in establishing the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry (now Lutheran Advocacy Ministry) in New Mexico, in 1984. Its goal is to work with legislators and public officials in NM to pass laws to protect and help the sick, mentally ill, elderly, and children of this state; to promote justice and reduce discrimination; and to bring hope for the future to the poor of NM. John worked effectively for years with LOGM as a Board Member and Committee Chair, visiting legislators and writing letters to them to support these goals.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Just Way to Celebrate Mother's Day

By Alaina Paradise

Mother’s Day accounts for 25% of the sales of the entire U.S. floral industry each year. One of the greatest ironies of the holiday is the mistreatment of hundreds of thousands of mothers and other female workers on floral farms around the globe.

These ladies are often subjected to sexual harassment, cheated out of wages, and forced to work in dangerous fumigated areas without proper protection - hardly the gift that many intend to give when they hand a bunch of roses to their smiling mom. This year, Fair Trade Certified™ flowers are the new option for socially-conscious shoppers who want to give Mom a gift that truly gives back.

The Fair Trade program is slowly making a drastic impact in the lives of many floral workers and their families in countries like Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya. About 90% of these workers are female, and many are mothers themselves.

A great example of the positive change is seen in Ecuador where the minimum wage is the equivalent of around $166 per month, or $0.95 per hour according to the U.S. Department of State. Wages are even lower for the average floral worker in a non-Fair Trade business in Ecuador. They make $90 per month if they are lucky.

The Fair Trade program for Ecuadoran floral farms puts an end to this disparity by providing not just minimum wage, but a living wage to workers on Certified farms.

Women who work on these farms are now able to support themselves and their families, which means better nutrition, access to higher education, improved living conditions and greater equality for women in the home.

Fair Trade flowers are new to the U.S. market, and the largest companies in the floral industry have done little to promote their availability. One World Flowers is a start-up company based in Albuquerque, N.M., that is completely dedicated to selling 100% Fair Trade flowers. The company is a licensed by TransFair USA as an official importer of Fair Trade Certified™ flowers and it acts as a wholesaler to many co-op markets, grocery stores, and florists around the country. As part of the company’s commitment to fair trade, 10% of the purchase price of the flowers is donated back to a workers’ fund each quarter.

Farm employees organize democratically to vote on ways to use the funds for community improvement, micro-lending, or education. Fair Trade farms also provide on-site doctors and healthcare for employees, 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, and year-round working agreements to prevent seasonal layoffs.

With such incredible benefits it is hard to imagine that Fair Trade flowers are not offered by more places. There is confusion among consumers about other flower labels such as Veriflora and FlorVerde. These are primarily environmental protection programs that do not have the same social and human rights protections that are offered by Fair Trade. Florists and grocers around the nation often don’t make the distinction between these programs and Fair Trade, which also includes strict environmental protection standards. They are therefore unlikely to pay the extra cost for offering Fair Trade flowers to customers.

Growth has been slow but steady,” says Joie King of One World Flowers, “we really work hard to educate consumers around the big holidays about the social and economic impacts of Fair Trade in addition to its environmental sustainability standards. Our goal is to make the biggest impact we can for the ladies on Fair Trade farms.”

As surrounding farms see the success of the Fair Trade program, the hope is that more will seek to change their policies and go through the rigorous certification process.

Before giving mom a bunch of roses for Mother’s Day this year, consider the source and the moms who grew them. It’s worth the extra few dollars per bouquet to ensure that the women who grew the roses were paid and treated fairly.
Be sure to look for the Fair Trade label on the bouquet wrapper or individual stems to ensure that what you’re really getting are Fair Trade flowers. If you can’t find them, ask your local florist or cooperative market to start carrying them. Where to buy

The difference is peace of mind for moms worldwide who no longer have to struggle to feed their children or provide a safe home. Take it from Silvia Mariana Cualchi Rojas, a Fair Trade floral worker who said, "When I separated from my husband, my son and I had no place to go. Without my husband, I couldn’t qualify for a bank loan. [The farm’s] Housing Maintenance Program put a roof over our heads and pride in our hearts."

It’s amazing what the right gift for one can do for others!

The author is president of One World Flowers

Read earlier blog post about her business

(Editor's note: And if you decide to buy your Mother's Day bouquets from One World Flowers, please remember that orders are due by April 24)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nutrition Bills in Congress

The following is an action alert from Pam Roy, director of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council.

We want to bring two House Resolutions to your attention and ask for your consideration to contact your Congressman and request that they sign on to both of these Resolutions.

The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, H.R. 1324:

This bill will update the national nutrition standards for foods sold in schools that "directly compete" with school meals (breakfast and lunch). "Competitive foods" include vending machines that sell candy bars and soft drinks and fast food franchise. The current federal standards are 30 years old. As stated below, New Mexico was one of the first states to change nutrition standards in schools to eliminate most competitive food sales - thanks to the hard work of many of you!

More than 120 members of Congress have already signed on. We need to show our New Mexico support! Please contact Reps. Lujan, Heinrich and Teague to request that they co-sign the H. R. 1324 legislation.

Last autumn, the NM Food and Agriculture Policy Council chose several important issues that we felt would be important to focus on in the current federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization. One issue was to support federal nutrition standards that would limit the sale of "competitive foods in schools" in all states as long as it didn't supersede state rules already passed and implemented in numerous states including New Mexico (see attached letter already sent to New Mexico Senators and Congressmen).

In 2006-7 the NM Food & Ag Policy Council took a lead role in working with New Mexico organizations, agencies and policymakers to change "school meal rules" to restrict the sales of candy and sodas in vending machines in schools, as well as other "competitive foods" such as fast food vendors, from selling in schools (thus competing with school meal programs).

New Mexico was one of the first states to change the rules to restrict schools from allowing the sales of unhealthy foods and the promotion of healthier options such as fresh fruits and vegetables in school meal and snack programs. We advocated at the federal level to increase the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program which received a healthy increase through the passage of the federal Farm Bill in 2008 and now benefits children in all states.

White House Conference on Food and Nutrition, H. R. 1869

Representatives James P. McGovern and Jo Ann Emerson have introduced H.R. 1869, a bill requiring a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition to be held by December 31, 2010.

The White House Conference on Food and Nutrition would bring together experts in food, health, nutrition, and economic security to develop a plan not only to end hunger once and for all in the United States, but also require that proper nutrition be taken into account in such a plan.

Ending hunger is the moral thing to do, but it's also critical that we address the issues associated with the rising cost of food and health care, increased obesity rates, and the health problems associated with obesity, poor nutrition, and hunger.