by Cindi Andrews, Beavercreek United Church of Christ
Mmmm. Rich, dark coffee, heavenly cocoa and chocolate, flavorful teas, crunchy almonds, nourishing snacks, and healthy olive oil! Your church can have tasty treats and serve up a heaping portion of justice at the same time! How? By participating in the UCC national Coffee Project, a partnership between UCC Justice and Witness Ministries and a fair trade organization known as Equal Exchange.
The UCC Coffee Project links congregations with small farmers and their families through Equal Exchange, a democratically organized, worker-owned and controlled co-operative founded in 1986, to implement a new model of trade built upon fairness and stronger relationships between farmers and consumers. Equal Exchange purchases coffee and other crops directly from farmer co-ops around the world. Through the project, small farmers gain more control over their lives, earn a greater share of income, have access to affordable credit and technical support, develop ecologically sustainable farming practices, and gain a mutually beneficial trading network they can trust. Farmers have been able to dig wells for clean drinking water and invest in equipment and their land. The added income from Fair Trade also allows farmers to contribute to local education projects and social services in their communities. Projects benefit farmers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In addition, for every pound of fairly traded products that UCC members order through the project, Equal Exchange makes a donation to the UCC Small Farmer Fund, which assists family farmers in the global south.