MC Goes Fair Trade

Alexa Barnes '18, Writer

Recently, Marin Catholic Wildcats have seen a change in their beloved chocolate chip muffins.  After months of coordination, consideration,  and hard work, MC has now achieved  a Fair Trade certification.  For most  students, this just means some new chocolate chips and teas, but for the school community, this is a huge step in the global world. The Fair Trade committee is working to educate students about the value and importance of this certification. At the same time, the cafeteria is looking to expand their Fair Trade offerings. A major goal of the committee is to educate students about Fair Trade. The whole concept, though important, isn’t understood or acknowledged by many people. In fact, Marin Catholic is only the 18th school in the nation, and the first school in Marin, to receive this designation.   Many students know that sourcing fairly traded products is important,  but may not fully understand all that it entails.  The Roar talked to several people involved with the initiative to learn more about  MC’s Fair Trade Certification.

Ms. Lynn Maloney, the committee organizer, explained that “Fair Trade is a certification process that ensures all that are involved with the farming process are receiving a living wage and receive a sufficient price under direct long-term contracts.” These farms don’t use abusive or child labor. Fair Trade  growers are either are “small-scale producers in democratic co-ops or workers on larger farms who receive a living wage  and can bargain collectively.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Maloney met with Epicurean, the school’s food provider,  to discuss a possible transition to Fair Trade . Nicole Price, Epicurean Café Manager,  spoke about the certification process,  “As soon as she [Ms. Maloney] found the criteria and items that needed to be purchased Fair Trade, she sent us a list of vendors. This part took a little time as well, because we have a specific list of our food providers that uphold the sustainable values of our company and where we source our food; organic whenever possible, local, freshly made, etc.” Eventually, the Wildcat Café  found vendors that provided Fair Trade ingredients for the muffins. The teas were already Fair Trade.

Upon choosing a vendor, a Fair Trade committee was formed. Junior Jade Fagersten, a committee member was involved in the certification process. Marin Catholic worked with Fair Trade Campaigns, a Fair Trade Certification Organization to become recognized as a Fair Trade School.  Jade says, “For the school to become Fair Trade Certified we had to go through a process with a certification program. The one MC has chosen is not only efficient and effective, but it’s relatively easy. The school needs to shift as many products with the Fair Trade option to become Fair Trade themselves, and we must make an active committee devoted to working on spreading the word about Fair Trade in general.”

The committee is working to educate other students about the impacts of Fair Trade. On Wednesday, November 18th, the committee hosted a “Fair Trade Fair.” Teachers and students talked about Fair Trade and distributed samples of Fair Trade baked goods. By teaching students and staff about Fair Trade, the committee hopes to highlight the importance of MC’s transition.  They also stress that though prices may have increased slightly, students can now enjoy their muffins and teas guilt-free. There was also an event on February 12th at lunch to promote Fair Trade for Valentine’s Day.

The initiative extends further than just the cafeteria. “Primarily we want to keep expanding the committee and spreading the word about Fair Trade. In addition to that, this basketball season’s snacks served in the snack shack include Fair Trade items, and that parent events include Fair Trade coffee, tea, and chocolate.” says Fagersten. Ms. Maloney confirmed that Boosters will be selling Divine Chocolate bars, which are Fair Trade Certified. Jade and Junior Sophia Lechner recently met with the Board of Regents and the MCPA to talk about their involvement with Fair Trade and why MC made the switch. “In all honesty, it was scary at first. To stand in front of all these powerful adults and tell them that the school was going to make such a big first step. But it was also so rewarding, to see everyone’s extremely positive reactions over such a meaningful change.” said Jade.  In talking with Ms. Maloney, The Roar learned that this change will grow to incorporate all parts of the Marin Catholic Community. “My hope is that all MC sponsored events offer Fair Trade products where applicable. Fair Trade coffee and chocolate at the Fashion Show and Gala, Fair Trade coffee and tea in the Faculty room. Fair Trade products used for all bake sales where applicable. I see this initiative as continuing to expand and grow. I want to be able to say our campus is 100% Fair Trade.”  

It seem as though everyone involved with the movement has great feedback.  Ms. Fagersten explains that she is passionate about this cause and hopes other students can recognize its importance. “Students should care because Fair Trade supports equality for workers throughout the world, despite race, gender, or nationality. Especially when we are all privileged enough to go to school in Marin, we have a sort of duty to protect and support people in less stabilized situations whom are the primary producers of products we love, like chocolate!” From the Cafeteria, Price says “We are absolutely proud to say that Marin Catholic is Fair Trade Certified and Epicurean could not be happier that we got to take part and help make this happen for the Marin Catholic Community.” Ms. Maloney, a face of the movement  says “11 years ago when I started working at MC my mentor, Clare Krebsbach, introduced me to this topic. It was her dream to see MC become a Fair Trade campus and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of making that dream come true on a topic that I feel so passionate about.” Students interested can get involved by supporting the initiative, spreading the word, educating outsiders about the topic and joining the committee. If you are interested in joining the committee, contact Ms. Maloney at Support Fair Trade!