West Bridgewater, MA (October 14, 2011) – This Halloween, children, organizations, and businesses across the U.S. will help children forced to labor on African cocoa farms by participating in the 5th annual “Reverse Trick-or-Treating” campaign. By handing out informational cards along with organic, Fair Trade chocolates from West Bridgewater, MA-based Equal Exchange when they go trick-or-treating, participants bring attention to the thousands of children who have been trafficked and forced to work in exploitative conditions on West African cocoa farms.
To order Reverse Trick-or-Treating kits of 150 chocolates and cards, non-profit organizations, schools, businesses, congregations, youth groups, and other group participants should place orders by mid-October so they arrive on time for Halloween from www.equalexchange.coop/rtt. The information card may also be viewed or downloaded from that website. Individual participants or families can participate by visiting www.reversetrickortreating.org.
This year’s Reverse Trick-or-Treating program marks the 10th anniversary of the September, 2011, signing of the Harkin-Engel Protocol that called for an end to the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa supply chains of the major chocolate companies. The campaign to raise awareness that there is a Fair Trade alternative to child labor is a join initiative of the San Francisco, CA-based human rights advocacy group Global Exchange and Equal Exchange and was launched in 2007, two years after the original Harkin-Engel deadline by when all signatories were to have ended the worst forms of child labor. Ten years after the protocol’s signing, most of its conditions have still not been met. In contrast, Equal Exchange sources its Fair Trade and organic cocoa from farms in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, and Ecuador. The vanilla from Madagascar and sugar from Paraguay for Equal Exchange’s chocolate are also certified Fair Trade and organic.
The program has been popular thanks to the increasing awareness of, and concern about, child labor on cocoa farms. Indeed, in 2010 alone, participants reached over 200,000 households. It has been most popular (by order of participant numbers) in New York, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois, as well as in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington.
“When the leading chocolate companies signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol 10 years ago, many of today’s Trick-of-Treaters hadn’t even been born, yet child slavery in the cocoa fields continues,” said Kelsie Evans, Equal Exchange Chocolate Products Coordinator. “With Equal Exchange’s Reverse Trick-or-Treating program, today’s children can say ‘enough is enough’ and let consumers nationwide know that Fair Trade chocolate prohibits child or forced labor and trafficking and ensures farmers receive fair wages.”
Many Fair Trade advocacy organizations and religious denominations are actively pressing chocolate companies to adopt Fair Trade sourcing practices. In September, 2011, Global Exchange, Green America, and the International Labor Rights Forum, released “STILL Time to Raise the Bar: The Real Corporate Social Responsibility Report for the Hershey Company” as the company has been the least involved of the leading chocolate companies in adopting changes to its sourcing practices.
For more information, see:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/equalexchange?sk=app_208195102528120
Background information – http://www.equalexchange.coop/child-labor-in-the-cocoa-industry.
Global Exchange – www.reversetrickortreating.org
STILL Time to Raise the Bar – http://ilrf.org/stop-child-forced-labor/cocoa-campaign/news/as-profits-soar-chocolate-industry-fails-to-deliver-on-p
About Equal Exchange
A pioneer and U.S. market leader in Fair Trade since 1986, Equal Exchange is an award-winning, full service, nationwide provider of high quality organic coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, healthy snacks and bananas. Their organic, Fair Trade cocoa-based products include nine 3.5 oz bars ranging from 38% to 80% cocoa content, bite-size .16 oz chocolate ‘minis’, hot cocoa mix, spicy hot cocoa mix, and baking cocoa.
100% of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting more than 40 small farmer co-operatives in 22 countries. In keeping with its Fair Trade mission and belief in economic democracy, Equal Exchange is a worker co-operative, owned and governed by its 110 employees, with offices, warehouses and/or cafes in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, and Oregon. Equal Exchange Minis are vegan, and gluten- and soy-free.