By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
Purchasing a cup of coffee on campus next semester will do more than provide caffeine—it just may help someone out of poverty, thanks to the efforts of the fall semester Social Work Practice II class. The course, which is taught by Dr. Paul Ammons, director of the School of Social Work, requires a final project at the end of the semester, and this semester students decided to lobby for campus-wide use of Fair Trade coffee, said Jordan Wesley, a student in the course and senior social work major from Amarillo. A Fair Trade logo denotes products that have satisfied regulations established by the non-profit organization, including social and economic development, environmental management and quality labor conditions, according to www.transfairusa.org.
According to the Web site, the project offers a solution for farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia struggling to survive because “low prices, market volatility and isolation often keep farmers in a cycle of poverty, unable to recover their cost of production.”
The idea for the campus project originated with Emily Hardegree, administrative assistant in the Office of Social Work, who began offering Fair Trade coffee in the social work office for 25 cents. Hardegree later began offering free coffee with a suggested donation when she learned she was technically “competing” with Aramark and violating ACU’s contract with the company.
Anthony Williams, director of retail and purchasing, said he met with Hardegree to discuss the possibility of using Fair Trade coffee when the contract with Aramark came up for re-negotiating. Hardegree then approached the social work class about lobbying for fair trade coffee on campus, Wesley said.
“We can all, as individual people, help spread Christ’s compassion for the poor. And this is one way we can do it,” Hardegree said.
Not only can Fair Trade lift farmers out of poverty, Hardegree said, but it may also save lives and improve health conditions.
“This is something that will have an impact…this will make a difference in at least one farmer’s life.”
Williams made the task of lobbying easy for the class – before they could begin their project, he returned with his answer: he supported Fair Trade coffee in all venues on campus.
“It’s something we should be about,” Williams said.
Fair Trade coffee is already available in the Fatted Café and the Connections Café, Williams said; by January he expects to have Fair Trade coffee in the Bean. Because Fair Trade coffee offers fair wages to farmers, cost per cup is slightly higher than products without the label. Students can expect to pay from 5 cents to 10 cents more per cup, Williams said. Williams felt the minor increase was worth it to embrace “an opportunity to help those who grow our coffee.”
“The coffee we served before was good coffee,” he said. “The Fair Trade model may be a better way to serve the coffee.”
Williams’ decision made it easy for the social work class.
“We were getting all geared up for a campaign, and it didn’t have to happen,” Wesley said.
Fair Trade coffee to arrive next semester.