WASHINGTON – Equitable Food Initiative, the multi-stakeholder workforce development and certification organization that partners with growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumer groups, has named two new board members. Fernanda Suárez will now represent NatureSweet Tomatoes, and Natalie Camacho Mendoza takes the place of retiring Bruce Goldstein for Farmworker Justice.
Since its founding, EFI has attracted board members who reflect the diversity of perspectives across the fresh produce industry. Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of EFI, remarked, “We believe in representative decision-making and our board composition assures that all players in the produce supply chain are at the table, including retailers, grower-shippers, farmworkers and consumers.” O’Driscoll continued, “I am thrilled to welcome these talented and compassionate women to our board to join EFI in promoting better agricultural workplaces, and a more equitable food system.”
NatureSweet Tomatoes is a founding member of EFI and has been a leading advocate for creating socially responsible workforce programs in the fresh produce industry. Suárez, based in Guadalajara, Mexico, is the sustainability and social impact director for NatureSweet. She brings more than a decade of experience focused on human resources and social compliance. She is passionate about the produce industry and wants to contribute to making sure that all farmworkers are treated with respect and dignity.
Camacho Mendoza joins EFI as an extension of her role with Farmworker Justice. Her family roots in the agriculture and railroad industries run deep and influence her work as an attorney and owner of Camacho Mendoza Law. She has worked in Idaho with and on behalf of unions and employers and as a farmworker advocate. Camacho Mendoza served and continues to serve on a variety of local, state, regional and national boards and committees addressing criminal justice reform, income inequality, civil rights and art and culture, but she is most proud of her work as the board chair of Farmworker Justice.
When asked about joining the EFI board, Suárez commented, “As an HR professional, I understand the power of individuals to contribute to the greater good, and I’ve seen firsthand how powerful diversity, equity, leadership training and inclusion initiatives can be in transforming cultures.” Suárez concluded, “EFI provides opportunities for organizations to be a champion for farmworkers and ultimately be the change we want to create in building safer, more equitable food supply chains.”
Camacho Mendoza sees benefits from extending her role with Farmworker Justice to EFI’s board. “My goal is to encourage more comprehensive views of farm labor and help all stakeholders understand the business side of agriculture,” explained Camacho Mendoza. “On the heels of the pandemic, more people are aware of the ‘always essential’ workers who contribute to our food supply, and I’m eager to leverage that for improving working conditions and supporting everyone who plays a role in agriculture.”
EFI works with 32 grower-shipper companies on 78 farms, with 52 certifications completed and 26 more in progress. Through the EFI program, 4,000 farmworkers and managers have been trained in problem-solving and communications practices that are improving labor, food safety and pest management standards for more than 58,000 workers.
Industry members interested in learning more about EFI, workforce development tools, training modules and educational resources can access information online at equitablefood.org/resources.
Equitable Food Initiative is a nonprofit certification and skill-building organization that seeks to increase transparency in the food supply chain and improve the lives of farmworkers through a team-based approach to training and continuous improvement practices. EFI brings together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to solve the most pressing issues facing the fresh produce industry. Its unparalleled approach sets standards for labor practices, food safety and pest management while engaging workers at all levels on the farm to produce Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured® fruits and vegetables. For more information about Equitable Food Initiative, visit equitablefood.org.
View a list of EFI-certified farms at equitablefood.org/farms.