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Augustana students win grant to promote fair trade

March  27, 2013

Anissa Pemberton and Eric Palmer

A student group at Augustana College recently won an $800 award to help draw attention to farming practices in the developing world that impoverish people and their land.

The student group, Fair Trade Augustana, focuses on fair trade practices that help to provide a living wage for Third World farmers, and support farming practices that don’t pollute or degrade the environment.

“Over the course of the past year, I became intensely aware of how my actions affect not only me, but the worldwide community,” said Anissa Pemberton, a junior from Hoopeston, Ill, and a student organizer of the campus club.

The grant was awarded by Fair Trade Colleges & Universities, which is part of Fair Trade USA, a non-profit advocacy group that monitors growers and distributors of farm products around the world. Coffee growers have been their primary target, since coffee beans are grown by some of the poorest farmers in the world, and sustainable farming methods are seldom practiced.

“It’s more expensive to buy these products because they provide for a fair wage to people actually growing the crop, whether it’s coffee or sugar,” said Dr. Mariano Magalhaes, a native of Brazil who is faculty advisor to the club. “So it does take a little bit more convincing, but it’s about social justice.”

The student groups said only a few items sold on campus, including one brand of coffee, are currently certified as fair trade products. Pemberton says that may change if the student group of about 15 students continues to grow.

“The grant money will be used to inform the student body about what fair trade is,” said Eric Palmer, a senior from Moline and the president of the student group. He said they plan to buy artwork and coffee mugs for the campus coffee shop, Brew by the Slough, that carry a socially responsible message, and can help them lobby for more fair trade products to be available on campus.

Pemberton and Palmer agree the goal is to make Augustana College a fair trade college. “We have faith in our group to devote the time and effort,” said Pemberton.

Keri Rursch
Director of Public Relations
(309) 794-7721
kerirursch@augustana.edu