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Coffee with a Conscience
Trinity’s Caterer Agrees to Serve Only Fair Trade Versions on Campus

By Susie P. Gonzalez

March 2009 – When Trinity needs a jolt of java, only Fair Trade coffee will do.

The University’s campus caterer is now serving 100 percent Fair Trade coffee, and lots of it – hundreds of gallons a week, in fact, says Miguel Ardid, director of Aramark’s Trinity University Dining Services. The reason is simple, he adds: Students wanted it, and it was the right thing to do.

A student leader of Trinity’s Fair Trade Coffee Council calls this development “a huge step forward” because the accompanying system of certification ultimately helps farmers as well as the environment.  “Fair Trade consolidates most of the expensive steps of coffee roasting and marketing into one Fair Trade Certified company, allowing more money to go back to the original primary producers – farmers and pickers, who receive less than 2 cents on the average $3 cup of coffee,” says senior Mica Segal of Houston, who is majoring in Spanish and communications with a minor in international studies.  

Fair Trade certification also insures the farm is more environmentally and socially responsible and encourages farmers to form co-operatives to exert their independence, Ms. Segal says. Fair Trade coffee was already the buzz when the social responsibility branch of the Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC) screened Black Gold, a documentary about Fair Trade practices. But seeing how some coffee farmers were exploited, students ramped up their lobbying, Ms. Segal says, adding that Trinity students would like to extend Fair Trade campus purchases to almonds, bananas, cranberries, chocolate, and sugar and to pursue the sale of sweatshop-free clothing at the campus bookstore.

Mr. Ardid says he’ll have to look into widening the list of Fair Trade commodities and notes that it took three years for Fair Trade coffee to become affordable for Aramark. Coffee, as with gasoline, has dropped in price, making the exclusive sale of Fair Trade coffee possible at Java City, the Coates University Center, and Mabee Dining Hall from a business standpoint. From an environmental standpoint, he says Aramark embraced serving only Fair Trade products. In addition, the President’s Task Force on Sustainability voted in 2008 to endorse 100 percent Fair Trade coffee on campus.

That’s good news to the Coffee Council. Ms. Segal says, “Coffee is an obvious favorite of college students, and it's nice to see Trinity be able to do its part by consuming conscientiously.”  

 


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